Monday, October 20, 2014

CENTURYLINK TO AWARD $30,000 IN TECHNOLOGY GRANTS TO IDAHO TEACHERS

Idaho teachers can apply for up to $30,000 in grants from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation to fund innovative technology projects. This is the 11th year the Idaho State Department of Education has partnered with CenturyLink to fund classroom technology projects across the state.

“Every year, Idaho’s teachers develop innovative ways to engage students and raise academic achievement through the use of technology. I am proud the Idaho State Department of Education has been able to partner with CenturyLink to provide these grants to Idaho teachers,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.

Last year, 22 teachers applied for grants, with 11 winners selected by a review committee comprised of community members and a CenturyLink representative. The winning teachers’ schools each received a grant to be used by the teachers to purchase technology. For instance, the Middleton School District was awarded $5,000 to purchase 10 iPad minis, a MacBook Pro and a charging cart for a mobile learning lab.  This mobile learning lab will transform and redefine current writing instruction to address the needs and learning styles of 21st century learners.

“With technology now such a normal part of our everyday lives, teachers are constantly finding new and creative ways to use technology in their classrooms,” CenturyLink Idaho Vice President and General Manager Jim Schmit said. “This is a great opportunity for CenturyLink to help by identifying some of those teachers, recognizing them for their innovation, and supporting them with financial assistance to expand their use of technology even further.”

The Idaho State Department of Education is now accepting applications. Teachers have until January 2, 2015 to apply for the grants.

All Pre-K-12 public and private school teachers who teach in a CenturyLink service area are eligible to apply.

CenturyLink service is neither required nor considered in the review of applications.

The Foundation will award more than $1.4 million in grants to support technology in the classroom through its 2014-2015 Teachers and Technology program, offered throughout the company’s service areas in the U.S. 


For more information or to apply, please visit http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/tech_services/grants_contracts.htm

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

IDAHO INDUSTRY HONORS IDAHO TEACHERS WITH ‘INDEEDS’ AWARD

Two Idaho teachers who demonstrate the commitment to go above and beyond in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), will be honored at the Idaho Technology Council’s “Idaho’s Hall of Fame and Innovation Awards.” This year’s Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM (INDEEDS) selections goes to two master teachers nominated by their home schools, and then evaluated and granted the recognition by some of Idaho’s top industry leaders.

“Through the INDEEDS Award program, the State of Idaho works with industry partners to recognize teachers who create unique opportunities for students to not only experience the fun and excitement of science and STEM, but also learn how to apply lessons in real-world settings,” said Scott Smith, Idaho State Department of Education’s STEM Coordinator.

The 2014 INDEEDS distinguished teachers are:
Amber McVey, Pepper Ridge Elementary, Boise, ID
Dennis Zattiero, Caldwell High School, Caldwell, ID

The award was initiated by the Office of the Governor in 2000 and was sponsored by a group of industry leaders including the Micron Foundation, Idaho National Laboratory, AECOM -formally URS/Washington Group, Hewlett-Packard, LCF Enterprises, and Idaho Power Company. In 2013, the award presentation was incorporated within the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame and Innovation Awards event to further spotlight these outstanding educators. With support from the State Department of Education and Office of the State Board of Education, as well as the Discovery Center of Idaho, INDEEDS recognizes teachers for their efforts to link industry and the science, technology, engineering, and math agencies along with businesses of Idaho to the classroom and students.

As a thank you from the sponsors, each recipient is awarded $2,000 with their school receiving an additional $2,000 to use towards STEM initiatives in the school.

For more information, contact Idaho State Department of Education, STEM Coordinator, Scott Smith at SSmith@sde.idaho.gov.

PRAIRIE ELEMENTARY RECOGNIZED AS NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

Prairie Elementary school has been officially recognized by the US Department of Education as one of this year’s Blue Ribbon Schools. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna extends his congratulations to Prairie Elementary for being selected.

“I’m proud of all the teachers, administrators, parents, and students who work so hard to make Prairie Elementary a great place to learn,” said Superintendent Luna. “Everyone there is leading by example and helping to set the standard of education in the Gem State.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Prairie Elementary School has maintained an average of 95 percent of all students who have achieved a ranking of Proficient or Advanced on Idaho’s statewide assessment in reading. In math, they’ve maintained an average of 93 percent Proficient or Advanced over the last five years.  Prairie faces many of the same challenges as other schools across the Gem State with an average of 40-50 percent of students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch.

Superintendent Luna will visit Prairie Elementary School on Friday, October 16th for an assembly and award announcement celebration. Press is welcome to attend. Prairie Elementary School is located at 907 Lewiston Street in Cottonwood. The assembly is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m.

In addition to the national recognition, Prairie Elementary School will also receive a $20,000 award and an additional $5,000 to use towards traveling expenses to the Recognition Ceremony in Washington D.C., on November 10-11, 2014.

For more information about the National Blue Ribbon Program contact Marcia Beckman at 208-332-6953 or mmbeckman@sde.idaho.gov

DEPARTMENT TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED RULES

The State Department of Education will hold a hearing on October 16, 2014 to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed rules.

The meeting will be held from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Barbara Morgan Conference Room at the Department of Education located at 650 West State Street in Boise.

Teachers, parents, administrators and the public are encouraged to come to the meeting. Topics of the proposed rules include special education funding, physical education, graduation requirements, student data and more. The rules are also available for comment online until October 23rd.


DEPARTMENT SEEKS IDAHOANS TO REVIEW TEST QUESTIONS

The State Department of Education is seeking 120 Idahoans to review test questions for the spring Idaho Standards Achievement Tests by Smarter Balanced.

Educators, parents, and school board members are encouraged to apply. The review will take place December 15 to December 19. Participants must commit to being in Boise during those dates and available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the committee does not finish, participants may be asked to return to Boise January 6 to January 8, 2015.

The committee, known as the Bias and Sensitivity Committee, was created by the Idaho Legislature in 2014 through Idaho Code 33-133. The committee consists of a minimum of 30 people from six regions of the state. Each region must be represented by a minimum of two parents of a public school or public charter school student, one teacher, one administrator, and one school board member. Because the committee must review more than 30,000 test questions, 120 people are needed. To apply, please fill out the form here: www.surveymonkey.com/s/BiasAndSensitivity Selected committee members will be reimbursed for their travel at the state rate, teachers will also be reimbursed for substitutes. All participants will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Applications are due by October 30.

Idaho has been one of the governing states in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium since its inception in 2010. The new assessment will replace the previous ISAT and is aligned to higher standards in English language arts and math. The test moves beyond multiple choice questions to measure critical thinking skills by having students explain their answers and write essays. Idaho fully field tested the new test in the spring of 2014 and is set to give the operational exam in 2015.

The new test has gone through an extensive bias and sensitivity review as part of test development, but Idahoans will have their own opportunity to review questions. Questions flagged by the committee will be presented to the State Board of Education in January, who will determine whether a test question is included on the operational test. Reviews of the questions will be confidential as is standard procedure for a secure assessment.

For more information, please contact Cathy Salas at 208-332-6909 or csalas@sde.idaho.gov

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Superintendent Luna Calls for 6.9 Percent Increase for Public Schools

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna submitted a budget proposal Tuesday requesting a 6.9 percent increase in state funding for Idaho public schools for the 2015–16 school year.

“We’re meeting our priorities and fulfilling our promises with this budget,” said Superintendent Luna. “This budget proposal follows priorities set forth by Governor Otter’s Taskforce for Improving Education.  We know the most important factor in a child’s education is the quality of the teacher. This budget focuses on improving teacher pay and providing better support for teachers through targeted professional development and access to 21st century learning tools.”

State agencies are required to submit budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year to the Governor’s office by September 1. Because of the Labor Day holiday, agencies were allowed to submit a day later.

The public schools general fund request equals $1,460,700,900, a 6.9 percent increase over fiscal year 2015. Without automatic increases for growth in student population and educators, the budget is a 5.8 percent increase.  

The largest increases in the budget are focused on recommendations from the Governor’s Taskforce for Improving Education to fund a career ladder for teachers, which changes the way teachers are compensated as well as increases in professional development dollars sent to districts and transitioning from a one to one device pilot program to a formula sent directly to all school districts.

Highlights in Superintendent Luna’s budget proposal for the 2015 school year include:
·         More than $23 million for the career ladder
·         An increase in discretionary funding of $10 million
·         $9 million additional  for 21st century classroom technology to create one to one mobile device environments
·         $21.6 million for professional development funding for teachers
·         More than $10 million to restore funds for maintenance and safe and drug free schools


This budget request will now go to the Governor’s office for consideration. According to state statute, the Governor presents a budget recommendation for all of state government to members of the Idaho Legislature in January. Fiscal year 2016 begins July 1, 2015.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Reset of the Star Rating

Recently the Idaho State Board of Education approved a proposed accountability plan for the 2014-2015 school year.

The plan was brought to the Board by the Department of Education. Because Idaho fully field tested the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test in spring 2014 there is not a baseline score to calculate growth for accountability. Therefore Idaho will not publish a summative star for school year 2014-2015, but will publicly report all elements of the Star Rating with the exception of growth.

“This is a reset of the Star Rating system,” said Superintendent Tom Luna. “It’s not a pass on accountability. Schools will still be held accountable for student success through public reporting and meeting school improvement designations.” Luna continued, “Growth is and has been a major part of our accountability system and must continue to be a major part. To calculate star ratings without growth would be akin to No Child Left Behind that we worked so hard to change. By resetting star ratings, we maintain the integrity of the Star Rating system and create a baseline for growth in future years."

Idaho's 5 Star Rating System is based on multiple measures: proficiency, academic growth, graduation rate, SAT scores, and advanced opportunity participation. Growth on the new ISAT will be on a vertical scale, like a yard stick, that allows parents, students, and educators to easily see growth in student achievement year after year.

Students will take the new ISAT in math and English language arts next spring (2015) and will receive their scores. Schools at the end of next year, will have the option to distribute reports that show student growth between the ISAT given in 2013 and the new ISAT given next year (2015). However, because of the difference in the tests, it’s not appropriate for the state to use these growth reports for accountability.

Priority and Focus Schools (the bottom 15 percent in achievement) as well as Rapid and Turnaround Schools will continue to be calculated. These designations have been and will continue to be based on proficiency scores, not growth, so they will continue to be published.

The 2014-2015 accountability plan will be available for public comment. If changes are required, then the Department will bring changes to the Board of Education in October. The plan will then be presented to the US Dept of Education as part of Idaho's accountability plan.