Oct. 17, 2012
Congratulations to 2013 Teacher of the Year Katie Anderson
Rapid City’s Katie Anderson was named the 2013 South Dakota Teacher of the Year last week, during a special recognition banquet as part of the annual Systems Change Conference in Chamberlain. To read more, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/news.aspx?id=307.
Smarter Balanced releases sample test items
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released sample items and performance tasks to help teachers, administrators, and policymakers better understand the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and prepare for related assessments. While the sample items and performance tasks are not intended to be used as practice tests, teachers can use them to begin planning the shifts in instruction that will be required to help students meet the demands of the new assessments.
Developed by teams of educators from across the country, these sample items and performance tasks showcase the variety of item types being developed by the Smarter Balanced consortium, including technology-enhanced items that take advantage of computer administration. However, they represent only a small fraction of the more than 10,000 items and tasks currently in development.
The Smarter Balanced assessment system will cover the full range of college- and career-ready knowledge and skills in the Common Core State Standards. To do this, each test item is associated with assessment targets and overall content claims. This information—as well as the scoring rubric for each item—is available through the online interface.
South Dakota is a part of the Smarter Balanced Consortium and had representation on one of the development teams.
The sample items and performance tasks are displayed using a simulated test platform. This does not include accessibility tools and accommodations options that will be available when the assessments are administered to students in the 2014-15 school year. To view the sample items, go to: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/sample-items-and-performance-tasks/
Teacher Evaluation Work Group making strides toward goal
The Teacher Evaluation Work Group met Sept. 20 in Pierre. Collectively, group members are beginning to have a vision of what evaluation tools and support resources might look like in South Dakota. Beginning in 2014-15, teachers in South Dakota will be evaluated on the state standards for teaching (i.e. Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching) adopted by the South Dakota Board of Education.
The group had conversations about how to measure the quantitative components – a big question at the beginning of the meeting – and by the end, had an idea of creating a portfolio that shows evidence of student learning. For English-language arts and math teachers of grades 3-8 and 11, that portfolio would include state assessment scores.
The portfolio would clearly demonstrate growth, even for teachers who aren’t teaching core subject material or are teaching outside the tested grade levels. The portfolio would be scored using indicators in Domains I and III of Danielson’s Framework. Certain indicators in Charlotte Danielson’s Framework could be used to judge those quantitative measures and would then be considered “power” indicators, meaning they would be weighted to account for 50 percent of a teacher’s total score. Benchmarks and goals could be decided locally.
The group also discussed qualitative measures, including both formal and informal observations.
“Maybe we give districts resources and some basic direction but we also give them options,” said group facilitator Dr. Rick Melmer, education dean at the University of South Dakota.
The group will continue meeting and finessing these ideas within the coming months. For more information, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/secretary/iittewg.aspx.
It’s School Lunch Week!
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared the week of Oct. 14 – 20, 2012, as School Lunch Week in South Dakota. This is to recognize the daily work of more than 1,000 school nutrition program employees who provide healthy school meals to South Dakota students daily.
Serving more than 31 million children nationally every school day, the federally funded National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced, healthy meals. The program, which has been around for more than 60 years, requires school meals to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new nutrition standards by:
• Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
• Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
• Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
• Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
• Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
The theme of this year’s national school lunch celebration is “School Lunch – What’s Cooking?”
Benchmark Assessment Pilot underway; first round of testing complete
The state’s Benchmark Assessment Pilot is underway, and the first assessment has already been administered. Students in selected districts took part in the pre-test Sept. 4-14.
The benchmark assessments administered through this pilot are delivered in reading and mathematics at grades 3-8 and 11. The assessments are administered completely online and assess mastery of items aligned to the Common Core.
“The great thing about online assessment is that teachers have access to data immediately and can use it to figure out where the holes are and where we can get stronger,” said assessment specialist Gay Pickner. “We are also doing the same analysis at the state level with aggregated data.”
Results may be different from one district to another, Pickner said, and the feedback can help teachers tailor their instruction throughout the year.
There will be another test administered in December, followed by one in March. Those two assessments are currently being referred to as interim assessments. The post-test will take place at the end of the year.
After each test, the state’s assessment team will meet with individual districts to discuss their results and any strategies for improvement. The state is also tracking bandwidth usage during testing times and related technology issues.
The pilot districts are: Beresford, Arlington, Bennett County, Dakota Valley, Leola, Deuel, Flandreau, Hill City, Haakon, Corsica, Harding County, Avon, Wall, Lennox, Sioux Valley, Pierre, Brookings, Stanley County, White Lake, Tri-Valley and Sioux Falls.
To find more information, go to: http://doe.sd.gov/oats/SDBA.aspx
Support Common Core Literacy with Electronic Resources
What’s the key to student success? Reading! The State Library electronic resources can help students become college and career ready and help teachers implement Common Core literacy standards by providing access to online encyclopedias, journals, ebooks and more.
For example, the Reading Standards for Informational Text emphasize the special skills needed when reading for factual information, whether for school or personal interest, in all formats. World Book Online offers help in this area by providing read aloud, videos, and article subheadings to help readers stay on track. Articles also give links to other articles or supplemental material if readers want more information.
SIRS Discoverer, SIRS Issues Researcher, and ProQuest provide informational articles about a broad variety of topics. Issues Researcher has read aloud and research tools to help students process what they read, especially “My Analysis” and “Note Organizer.” Special features in Discoverer and Issues Researcher include maps and interactive websites. ProQuest helps researchers narrow their topics by suggesting topics and giving limiters such as date and format.
Gale Virtual Reference Library provides access to selected multi-volume titles in many subject areas. Recently added titles that support Common Core reading and research are titles like the nine volume Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures, the four volume Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World and the five-volume Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes.
The South Dakota State Library’s e-resources, available at http://library.sd.gov, can help your students meet Common Core literacy standards and enhance learning for all ages. The State Library Electronic Resources Coordinators are available to provide training for teachers either in person or online. Contact the State Library at (800) 423-6665 or either of the electronic resources coordinators: Jane Healy (firstname.lastname@example.org) at (605) 295-3174 or Julie Erickson (email@example.com) or (605) 295-1994.
5th Annual Parent Conference
Oct. 27, Rapid City
This year’s Learning Starts at Home Conference for Parents will take place in Rapid City. The conference is free to attend, but preregistration is requested. Co-sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Education and the Parent Information Resource Network, the event provides parents and educators with resources to help reach their children and foster student learning. For more information, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/onlinecalendar/102712.aspx
2012 Regional Transition Forums
Oct. 24 – Dec. 14, Various locations statewide
Forums are informal and interactive meetings to discuss collaboration between agencies, schools, and families so students with disabilities can receive appropriate services and supports during the transition to adulthood process. For more information, contact Melissa Flor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 15 –29, Various locations statewide
The IEP workshop will take you through all the essentials needed to provide students with a program that results in educational benefit. Workshops run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in their respective time zones and six contact hours will be offered. Presenters will cover all areas of special education, from referral to placement to IEP development. This interactive workshop will help you analyze data and write appropriate IEPs for students with varying disabilities. Registration is limited to 50 participants at each site. For registration and a complete list of dates and locations, got to: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDRVcTFFNVVfcktJc284REhaTzlfaXc6MA
Anderson receives prestigious award
Rapid City’s Katie Anderson was named South Dakota’s 2013 Teacher of the Year last week, and when asked what she was most looking forward to about the upcoming year, the science and reading teacher at East Middle School had a simple response that spoke volumes: “Just being able to meet and learn from the other state honorees.”
Every day, Anderson approaches her classroom with that same attitude. Every day presents a new learning opportunity for Anderson and her students. According to Anderson, they have much to learn from each other.
“One of the things I really like about teaching science is that I get to be with the kids as they’re asking questions, solving problems and figuring things out,” Anderson said. “We do a lot of fun experiments. It’s fun to watch them while they’re thinking and to see them reach their full potential.”
The marriage of science and reading sometimes seems a little surprising at first, but to Anderson it makes perfect sense.
“Science text is difficult to read, and kids need to know how to read it in order to solve problems,” Anderson said. “So it’s not just reading a passage anymore, but reading for comprehension and understanding and critical thinking.”
As for the opportunity to represent South Dakota in Washington, D.C., as the state nominee for the National Teacher of the Year award, Anderson says she’s “very honored.”