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Nov. 2020  
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Dr. Jones SECRETARY’S COLUMN: JAG-SD going strong with new state director in place

During the 2020 legislative session, you may recall an exciting development that occurred related to South Dakota’s Jobs for America’s Graduates program. It was officially placed into statute, a special donations fund was created, and the position of state JAG director was established within the Department of Education.

JAG has been in South Dakota since 2009-10 when the Wagner Community and Andes Central school districts piloted the program. I have had the opportunity to hear several JAG students tell their stories, and it’s a deeply moving experience. In fact, Governor Noem has been equally moved, and it was she who led the push for the JAG legislation after visiting with Wagner students last fall.

If you are unfamiliar with this successful program, the goal is to empower students who face significant personal barriers to educational success. The curriculum teaches leadership, employability skills, and prepares students for graduation. But it doesn’t end there. Teachers in the program are called JAG specialists, and they stay in touch with graduates for one year after graduation to ensure students get connected to postsecondary education or employment.

Wagner and Andes Central have been JAG leaders from the beginning, and I commend them for their dedication to this powerful program. With that leadership, however, has sometimes come a lot of pressure, as other districts have turned to them for guidance in establishing their own programs.

That is why I’m so glad our new state JAG director, Beth Schneider, is now in place and has already been able to relieve some of that pressure, so that all schools in the program can more effectively focus on what they do best: working with their local students. There are currently JAG programs in five South Dakota school districts: Andes Central, Bennett County, Smee, Todd County, and Wagner Community.

In just her first few months with the department, Beth has established regular all-JAG-SD meetings and a professional development schedule for teachers, giving them space to collaborate and learn from each other. She has visited participating schools and is regularly communicating with administrators at the five districts.

JAG students are participating in and preparing for several projects this fall, including a video production contest and a virtual career development conference. JAG-SD will also be represented with a Christmas tree at the Capitol this winter.

Of course, one of the most exciting things about all of this is the opportunity for the program to expand to more districts. I hope you’ll visit the department’s JAG-SD webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/JAG-sd/] to learn more and reach out to Beth [beth.schneider@state.sd.us] if you would like more information.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students. Stay safe and healthy.

Applications open for competency-based, learner-centered course series

Over the next three years, 1,600 South Dakota K-12 educators will be invited to apply for a series of courses to increase their capacity in competency-based, knowledge-rich, whole-child approaches to instruction to support a continuum of learning. Funding for educators to take these courses is made possible through South Dakota’s Rethinking K-12 Education Models (REM) grant [https://doe.sd.gov/grants/rem.aspx].

Time commitment

  • Participants must complete all coursework with the intent to implement learned strategies in their school/classroom.
  • Seven courses for a total of nine graduate credits (asynchronous: participants work at their own pace)
    • One credit = 15 hours of coursework
    • Two credits = 30 hours of coursework
  • Teachers will be placed in cohorts using the Canvas learning management system. Courses will last approximately 6-8 weeks depending on the credits allocated.
Additional benefits
  • Nine graduate credits or CEUs paid for
  • Texts and resources paid for
To apply: Fill out this application [https://forms.gle/xJgvTktyCZyCPcEi7]. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and rated on this rubric [https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQVE8SZEmhnXHPdl6BwyWZMFgTIZu27-xy1tlcdFCAQMppaWqsofeFMoJP3-TaJLA7Q-N_3pKdwjR6P/pubhtml]. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. The first cohort will begin on Feb. 1, 2021. Applicants will be notified of cohort placement one month prior to the course beginning. Applications are ongoing and will continue throughout the three-year period of the grant.

Memo of Understanding: If selected, participants will be asked to complete data questionnaires/interviews from Marzano Research.

Please email Dr. Cari Kennedy [ckennedy@tie.net] for more information.

Course descriptions

A Learner-Centered Approach: The Essential Elements (2 credits): Learn many of the important terms and how to explain them to families, educators, and administrators, and establish a common language and understanding around customized and competency-based learning.

Learners & Families: Developing Understanding of the Whole Child (1 credit): Understand and design a whole-child curriculum in practice and establish a common language with learners, families, and other educators.

Blended Instruction: Development & Implementation (1 credit): Understand and design blended instruction in practice and establish a common language with learners, families, and other educators.

Technology: Leveraging Tools for Instruction & Learning (1 credit): Understand the purpose, use, and benefits of technology applications in the classroom and establish a common language with learners, families, and other educators.

Competency-Based Instruction: Curating and Creating Content/Curriculum (1 credit): Understand and build a competency-based curriculum in practice and establish a common language with learners, families, and other educators.

Competency-Based Instruction: Authentic Assessment & Grading (1 credit): Understand and build a competency-based curriculum in practice and establish common and authentic assessments for all learners.

Learners & Families: Culturally Responsive and Trauma Informed Practices (2 credits): Understand and design a culturally responsive and trauma informed curriculum in practice and establish a common language with learners, families, and other educators.

Save the Date: Native American Needs Assessment coming in 2021

In January, the South Dakota Department of Education will invite all South Dakota K-12 educators to complete the state’s first-ever Native American Needs Assessment. This survey was developed in partnership with the South Dakota Office of Indian Education and the Regional Educational Laboratory Central (REL Central).

This survey is intended to gauge current awareness, knowledge, practice, and advocacy for the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings. Survey data will inform targeted professional development, support, and guidance aimed at increasing statewide capacity to implement the OSEUs.

In addition to the OSEUs, the needs assessment will ask respondents about culturally responsive curriculum and instruction, equitable school climate, and professional development.

K-12 Connect K-12 Connect enrollment deadline approaching

The deadline to enroll in South Dakota’s K-12 Connect program is Nov. 20. This program provides free internet service to eligible K-12 students in their homes for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

Eligible South Dakota households should have received a letter identifying a telecommunications company to call to access free internet service through K-12 Connect. If a family believes they are eligible but did not receive a letter, they will need to fill out an Eligibility Form.

To be eligible for the program, households must meet all of the following:

  1. Have at least one student currently enrolled in a K-12 school or homeschool; and
  2. Must meet the income eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced school lunch program [https://doe.sd.gov/cans/documents/20-Income.pdf]; and
  3. Must not have internet services in the home between July 1, 2020, and present
Once eligibility is determined, providers will install the necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Internet service will be provided through June 30, 2021. After that time, the household must return the equipment to the provider or continue services at the household's expense.

For more information and to access the Eligibility Form, visit k12connect.sd.gov; email k12connect@state.sd.us; or call 605-773-3248.

K-12 Connect is a partnership of the South Dakota Governor’s Office, Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, Department of Education, and participating telecommunications companies.

Telecommunications companies that are participating in K-12 Connect include:

  • Alliance Communications Cooperative
  • Beresford Municipal Telephone Company
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority
  • Faith Municipal Telephone Company
  • Fort Randall Telephone Company
  • Golden West Telecommunications
  • Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative
  • Kennebec Telephone Company
  • Long Lines Broadband
  • Midco
  • Midstate Communications
  • RC Technologies
  • Santel Communications Cooperative
  • Swiftel Communications/Brookings Municipal Telephone
  • TrioTel Communications
  • Valley Telecommunications Cooperative
  • VAST
  • Venture Communications Cooperative
  • West River Cooperative Telephone Company
  • West River Telecommunications Cooperative

SD-JAG DOE aims to expand JAG program in South Dakota

The Jobs for America’s Graduates program seeks to connect with students who have barriers to success and empower them to graduate from high school and move confidently toward the realization of their dreams. JAG-SD is a program supervised by the South Dakota Department of Education and is a proven program that supports students to stay in school through graduation. Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) [https://jag.org/] is a state-based national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young people of great promise. In its 40-year history, the JAG Advantage [https://jag.org/about/#JAGAdvantage] has proven to deliver results.

JAG-SD was established during the 2009-10 school year with pilots at Wagner Community School and Andes Central High School.

By the third year, the South Dakota Office of Indian Education began overseeing JAG-SD. Three programs were active in districts located within American Indian Reservations.

In 2012, four JAG Multi-Year program students from Wagner High School spoke at the National Indian Impacted Schools Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas and shared how the JAG program helped them in being prepared for the future.

JAG-SD ebbed and flowed through the years, but resilient JAG-SD Specialists and students always kept JAG-SD progressing. 2014 brought an expansion of JAG-SD along with the first state Student Leadership Conference. During the 2017-18 school year, six high schools and two middle schools had 237 students participating in their schools’ JAG programs.

In October 2019, Governor Noem experienced a moving visit to Wagner’s JAG program where she heard students’ powerful stories. Following subsequent student testimonials during the 2020 legislative session, Governor Noem fully funded a state director to help support and increase the impact of JAG-SD.

The 2020 Legislature also created a special donations fund for the program, and the South Dakota Department of Education is seeking to expand the number of JAG programs across the state.

There are currently JAG programs in five South Dakota school districts:

  • Andes Central
  • Bennett County
  • Smee
  • Todd County
  • Wagner Community
Beth Schneider, the new state JAG director, has begun facilitating regular meetings to give districts’ JAG specialists opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other. Schneider has also established a regular professional development schedule with at least monthly opportunities for teachers.

There will be a JAG-SD Christmas tree at the Capitol this year, students are participating in a video production contest and participating in a virtual career development conference this fall.

Kim Claussen has been a JAG specialist for eight years and started Bennett County High School’s JAG program. “It’s a program where you get so close with your kids,” Claussen said. “You help them get through school, you help them get through life’s trials, you help prepare them for the future.”

A testament to Claussen’s relationships with her students is the way tables turned when she recently contracted COVID-19 and needed to teach from home for a time. “I was doing lessons from home, but the way my students continually checked in with me to see how I was doing, I felt like I needed them more than they needed me,” she said.

“I’ve taught at both the elementary level and in adult education,” Schneider said. “What I see in JAG is a strong emphasis on the essential core of education for all ages: relationships. This program connects students to their schools and communities. A unique component of JAG is the relationship with the JAG specialists who stay in touch with students for a whole year after graduation to make sure those connections continue—to postsecondary and employment opportunities.”

The JAG-SD webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/JAG-sd/] has been updated with a wealth of program information. Interested in learning more? Contact Beth Schneider [beth.schneider@state.sd.us] with the South Dakota Department of Education.

CTE for Core Content applications due Dec. 1

South Dakota schools may offer students the opportunity to earn academic credit by completing approved career and technical education courses that address the pertinent standards within the curriculum. Approval to offer credit must be obtained through an application process with the Department of Education.

The application must include:

  • Course syllabus
  • Standards based curriculum
  • Teacher certification
  • Assessment of standards by methods including end-of-course exams, authentic assessment, project-based learning or rubrics
Applications must be submitted by Dec. 1 for the 2021-22 school year. You can find more information at https://doe.sd.gov/cte/corecontentcredit.aspx.

South Dakota School Library Guidelines adopted

The South Dakota State Library Board and South Dakota Library Association have formally adopted the South Dakota School Library Guidelines [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/SLC/doc/Guide-SDSL2020-Fin.pdf]. These guidelines are based on best practices from professional research and educational organizations. They are to be used in conjunction with the South Dakota School Library Content Standards [https://doe.sd.gov/contentstandards/documents/SchoolLibrary-20.pdf].
Nominations open for Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award

Nominations are open until Jan. 31, 2021, for the second annual Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, which honors two K-12 educators for excellence in cybersecurity education.

Congratulations to Eagle Butte Superintendent Kara Four Bear, who received this honor last year when she was the principal at New Town Middle School in New Town, N.D.!

As principal of New Town Middle School, Four Bear spearheaded the adoption of North Dakota cybersecurity education initiatives that teach digital literacy and safety skills to students of all ages. Under her leadership, educators at New Town Middle School made real-world connections to cybersecurity in the classroom so that students at this Title I school could learn about career paths in this field. She expanded opportunities for students to explore cybersecurity beyond the classroom through the Valley City State University Summer Academy and participation in the University of North Dakota NASA Near Space Project.

The award is presented annually to one elementary educator and one secondary educator who instill in their students skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity.

Award recipients will embody the expertise and dedication of educators who are critical to strengthening the nation's cybersecurity workforce. A nominee need not work in cybersecurity education exclusively; any educator whose subject matter includes cybersecurity is welcome to apply. Recipients of this honor will receive acknowledgement by the President of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Education, public recognition as a leader in the field of cybersecurity education, as well as professional development opportunities.

Established on May 2, 2019, by President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order [https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-americas-cybersecurity-workforce/] on America's Cybersecurity Workforce, this award was created by the U.S. Department of Education in consultation with the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, as well as the National Science Foundation.

Educators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, all U.S. territories, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and Tribal areas are eligible to apply or be nominated. Anyone may nominate an educator for this honor, including parents, students, fellow educators, and community members. Self-nominations are permitted. For the rules, terms and conditions, and specifics on how to apply, please visit here [https://www2.ed.gov/documents/presidential-cybersecurity-education-award.pdf]. Please visit the Department of Education's STEM webpage [https://www.ed.gov/stem/] for more information, and please send all questions about this award to cyberawards@ed.gov. Information on the Executive Order is available here [https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-americas-cybersecurity-workforce/].

bus Apply by Dec. 11 for Clean Diesel grants

The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources is accepting applications for funding under the South Dakota Clean Diesel Grant Program. The program provides rebates to assist in purchasing new buses to replace old, high-emitting diesel buses.

The primary goals of the program are to reduce students’ exposure to pollution and to facilitate the improvement and protection of the ambient air quality throughout South Dakota.

There will be approximately $491,757 of Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funds, $327,838 of VW Category 10 DERA funds, and $90,278 of VW category 2 bus funds available for the projects and any remaining funds from the previous round of grants.

The South Dakota programs will provide rebates to help public schools, non-public schools, state special schools, approved educational programs, shuttle or transit system providers, and school bus contractors purchase new buses to replace old, high-emitting, diesel buses.

Total rebate per replacement bus will be up to 25% of the purchase price of a 2019 engine model year or newer engine certified to EPA emission standards, 35% of the purchase price of a 2019 engine model year or newer engine certified to meet CARB’s Low-NOx standards, or 45% of the purchase price of a zero tailpipe emissions bus. DENR intends to award funds to as many eligible applicants throughout the state as possible.

The application deadline for initial consideration is Dec. 11. More information is available on DENR’s Clean Diesel Grant Program webpage [http://denr.sd.gov/des/aq/aadera.aspx]. Questions? Contact the DENR Air Quality office at 605-773-3151.

U.S. Ed. seeking School Ambassador Fellows

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking outstanding teachers, administrators, and other school leaders to join the School Ambassador Fellowship and lend their voice to the national education dialogue.

The School Ambassador Fellowship is designed to improve educational outcomes for students by leveraging the expertise of school-based practitioners in the creation, dissemination, and evaluation of national education policy. Founded on the principles of partnership, collaboration, and cooperation with school-based educators, the fellowship seeks to:

  • Create a community of teachers, administrators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other school staff members who share their expertise with one another and collaborate with U.S. Department of Education leaders on issues important to students and educators nationwide.
  • Involve practicing educators in developing policies that holistically affect learning environments.
  • Highlight practitioners' voices and expand educators' critical leadership at the local, state, and national levels.
The School Ambassador Fellowship offers two separate year-long tracks: full-time and part-time. The full-time appointment is based at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C.; and the part-time fellowship enables educators to collaborate with the department while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities.

To be eligible for the School Ambassador Fellowship program, participants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Currently be a teacher, administrator, counselor, social worker, or other school staff member (and anticipate being employed in this role during the 2021-22 school year).
  • Be employed by a traditional public, charter, private, virtual, military (DoDEA), or tribal (BIE) school that serves any grade, preschool through 12th.
  • Have at least five years of experience in his/her role, up to and including the current school year.
  • Have daily interaction with students and/or educators in his/her school/district role.
Ideal candidates for this program are educators from public, charter, independent, magnet, parochial schools, etc. who have made significant contributions to student learning and culture, can effectively communicate to a variety of internal and external education stakeholders, and can promote excellence in education through their collaboration and leadership capabilities.

The deadline to apply for the 2021-22 School Ambassador Fellowship is Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Program and application submission information can be found at the School Ambassador Fellowship website [https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/effective-educator-development-programs/school-ambassador-fellowship-program/].

How do local schools and districts benefit from having a School Ambassador Fellow represented at the U.S. Department of Education?

  • Fellows provide a direct line of contact and communication between the department and their local school communities.
  • Fellows have the opportunity to elevate pressing education challenges faced by the students they serve.
  • Fellows can build, foster, and facilitate relationships between their local educational communities and the department’s nationwide network of educational organizations.
  • Fellows will complete a capstone project that is designed to solve for complex challenges that will directly impact students, families, and educators.
Consider using this flyer [doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2020/11/documents/SAF-flyer.pdf] to promote the program among educators in your school or district.

  Test-optional alternatives open to students applying to public universities

South Dakota’s six public universities are emphasizing test-optional academic pathways for prospective students as they apply in the current admissions cycle.

Current South Dakota Board of Regents’ policies allow students admission based on various academic criteria, including:

  • High school grade point average (GPA), or
  • High school class rank, or
  • ACT or SAT test scores, or
  • Smarter Balanced test scores completed in the junior year of high school.
“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted test taking and created unique challenges for prospective students and families as they plan for college,” said Brian L. Maher, the regents’ executive director and CEO. Maher said current admissions standards at the six public universities make submitting an ACT or SAT score optional for students in the upcoming year.

“It’s important our prospective students and their families recognize they have multiple pathways to achieve a higher education,” Maher said. “At a time when students have encountered test cancellations and other barriers, we stand ready to work with them to achieve their goals.”

University admissions staff do recommend prospective students submit test scores if they have them, as those scores may be used for accurate course placement. In some cases, test scores could also improve a student’s opportunity to gain admission into certain programs and maximize scholarship opportunities. Students do not need to wait to apply until after testing, however, nor do they have to test if they choose not to in order to gain admission.

Students and their families should contact university admission offices to learn more about test-optional practices at each institution. The South Dakota Board of Regents is the constitutional governing body for Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota State University, and the University of South Dakota.

  SFEC develops college and career resource guide

To help students navigate the wide variety of resources available, the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center has created The Ultimate College and Career Resource Guide [https://sdsfec.org/college-career-guide/]. This is a free online “one-stop-shop” resource guide for students, families, schools, and communities.

From exploring careers to looking at colleges to figuring out how to pay for college, this guide is intended to help students and their families plan for the future.

SFEC Director, Morgan VonHaden, says, “The Ultimate College and Career Resource Guide is truly an amazing resource that our team put together for all students and families. We knew that there were already a lot of resources out there, but we wanted to gather the best resources together into a comprehensive guide for college, career, and ‘What do I need to know next?’ You don’t know what you don’t know, and we hope this will help students from all walks of life find guidance when making those decisions.”

The Ultimate College and Career Resource Guide reinforces SFEC’s mission to strive to ensure that all learners—especially English learners, economically disadvantaged learners, and minority students—have the supports they need to achieve academic, career, and life goals.

About the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center [https://sdsfec.org/]: What is Family Engagement? It is when schools, community partners, and families work together so that all children succeed. South Dakota was one of 13 states that received a multi-million-dollar five-year Statewide Family Engagement Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2018. The grantees, a partnership between West River Foundation, educational cooperative BHSSC, South Dakota Department of Education, and SD Parent Connection have established the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center which focuses on "cradle-to-career" supports for students, parents, families, and community-based organizations. Work is divided into three pillars to provide resources, training, and support to students and families from cradle to career: Birth to Five, K-12, and College and Career Readiness.

Upcoming Events

Except where otherwise noted, details on the following events are available at GoSignMeUp [http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/].

SD-STARS training – Analyzing Quantitative Student Data
Nov. 18, online

Special Education – Legal Issues Related to Bullying, Restraint and Seclusion
Nov. 18, online

Special Education BDI-3 Transition: Informational Webinar
Nov. 23, online

2021 National ESEA Conference
Feb. 8-11, 2021, online

Save the Date: SD Education Conference
May 26-27, 2021


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