With the close of another summer comes the excitement of packing up backpacks, sharpening pencils and making final preparations before students and teachers return to their classrooms for another year. As I look ahead to the 2014-2015 school year, I’m excited to see students and teachers excel in the classroom and beyond.
One of the things I’m most excited about for students is a new Advanced Opportunities program called Fast Forward. Beginning this school year, high school students attending public schools across Idaho will have access to new funding to help cover the costs of taking college-level courses or professional-technical certification exams while still in high school.
During the 2014 Legislative Session, the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1233, which approved funds to cover of up to 75 percent of the cost of taking dual credit courses, college-bearing exams, or professional-technical exams. The Fast Forward program provides every high school junior $200 and each high school senior access to $400 a year.
This spring students will take the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests by Smarter Balanced, an assessment that doesn’t limit students to A,B,C or D. Students get the opportunity to explain their answers and show critical thinking skills. The new adaptive assessment will show where students excel and where they need work, allowing teachers to work more effectively in the classroom.
This is an exciting time for education; teachers and students have more opportunities now than they ever have in the past. As we look to the upcoming school year I hope that you share in my excitement for another great year.
— Tom Luna
Idaho adopted the Common Core State Standards as Idaho’s Core Standards in mathematics and English language arts in 2011. The new Idaho Core Standards are a higher standard of what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level. As a state, we believe these standards will help us achieve the goal we have set for 60 percent of Idaho’s population having some form of postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020.
Since 2011, teachers and other educators have been working hard to implement these standards and integrate them into the classroom. Successful implementation of the standards is critical going forward..To help ensure every teacher receives professional development, the state will continue into a second year the highly effective Idaho Regional Mathematics Centers which are housed at four Idaho Universities. This program that builds upon the successes of the Idaho Math Initiative, features a director at each university who creates and manages the activities of one or more regional math specialists, all focused squarely on supporting Idaho Core implementation. In the first year of operations, the centers provided deep, sustained and individualized training to approximately 100 districts and charters. The directors and regional math specials provided, among other activities, video recording or lessons with targeted feedback, classroom observations, lesson and unit planning and regional and state mathematics conferences. http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/contact/regionalContacts.htm
On the ELA/Literacy side, the SDE will continue in year two the highly acclaimed Idaho Core Coach Network that consists of 9 full time regional coaches providing thinking partnerships with teacher leaders and administrators all over the state. In the first year of operations the Core Coaches worked educators from nearly 100 districts and charters. This program honors teachers as professionals and leaders. It aspires to provide a place for teachers to work deeply and in a sustained fashion on the core instructional shifts of the core-operationalizing the standards. Each teacher leader completed a rigorous online course leavens by 8 face to face days during the year. In turn, these highly trained teachers give back to their local school and districts by leading professional development into the future. The coaches also provided parallel training for administrators to create a common language around learning and what the core looks like in the classroom.
The SDE continues to provide ongoing support for Idaho teachers through targeted professional development opportunities. These opportunities complete with synopses and registration, can always be found at this link to the Idaho Core Toolbox: http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/common/
Assessments that reflect the Idaho Core Standards should focus on a ‘Balanced Assessment System,’ www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments/ consisting of formative, interim and summative assessment. State, district, school and classroom assessment should elicit the same evidence of learning that is outlined in the standards. The Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) www.sde.idaho.gov/site/formativeInterim/smarterBalanced.htm for English Language Arts/Literacy and Math will report scores at the Claim level. Assessment Claims are broad statements of the assessment system’s learning outcomes. They define what we can claim is true about student learning if in fact we see certain ‘evidence.’ Assessment Targets describe that ‘evidence’ and map to standards. There are four Claims in ELA/Literacy and four in Math. Educators should become more familiar with Assessment Claims and Targets using the Content Specifications documents to know what evidence for specific standards looks like in the classroom.
There are three ways to become familiar with sample items that reflect the standards.
There are 266 Smarter Balanced authored items currently in the Schoolnet Assessment Module. These are aligned to not only standards, but also corresponding claims, assessment targets, and depth of knowledge. Other public items in Schoolnet were not written specifically for the Idaho Core Standards but are matched with those standards to the degree possible.
Interim Assessments from Smarter Balanced www.sde.idaho.gov/site/formativeInterim/ will be available to Idaho Districts in the late fall of 2014. The interim assessments are one of three major components of the Balanced Assessment System, and are optional. They can be used to gauge student progress toward mastery of skills and performance measured by the summative assessment at strategic points during the school year. There are two types of assessment:
Research tells us that healthy students make better learners. This year, school environments are changing to support food choices that promote health and learning. As a requirement of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, all foods sold in schools during the school day now must meet minimum nutrition standards, including vending and fundraising. To learn more about this information and ways you can support a healthy school environment; visit Idaho’s Smart Snacks information page at http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/cnp/nslp/smartSnacks.htm or USDA’s Smart Snacks website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/smart-snacks-school
Idaho Farm to School Lesson plans are now available on SDE’s website and through SchoolNet. The series of ten address grades 3-5 Idaho Core Standards, health standards, and are a great way to introduce 4th graders to the agricultural economic areas of Idaho for social studies. Each lesson features an Idaho grown food and includes colorful resources. http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/cnp/farmToSchool/lessonPlans/
Additional free materials for health education are available at USDA’s website for educators. http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/educators
Over the summer, the Instructional Technology staff has collaborated with the other divisions of the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) to organize the professional development provided throughout the school year. The first product of this collaboration is the SDE’s new professional development website, The Hub. The Hub was designed with the Idaho Educator in mind. Our goal is to create a one stop shop for your professional development needs. The Hub is a great resource for links to both webpages within the State’s website, webpages on other websites, and to PD360 video clips to answer your questions and model best practice.
The Hub includes a new PD state calendar. On this calendar, you will be able to see all of the professional development (PD) opportunities provided by the state, along with outside organizations that wish to collaborate with the SDE. On this calendar, you can select your position or region to see what PD is available for you. While we cannot prevent overlapping dates and time this year, or goal is to minimize that in the future. Do you have an event you’d like to share with other educators within the state and beyond? We have a “submit date” button and we will place your event on the state calendar! To visit The Hub, click here.
The SDE is also excited to introduce to you PD360. Every certified educator in the state of Idaho has complete access to PD360 and its vast video library. Looking for an example of a lesson that integrates Idaho Core ESL standards into a music lesson, PD360 has several wonderful examples. Struggling with classroom management, PD360 has a series of videos that will take you step by step in developing a successful system. Have you been asked to provide PD for your peers on PLCs, PD360 has videos with the leaders of their field. With names like Stiggins, DeFour, and McTighe, you will learn from today’s experts with clear examples of the concept they are presenting. PD360 also has videos with examples at all levels. You do not need to watch a high school classroom if you are an elementary teacher, although you are free to do so. For more information on PD360, click here.
What PD360 is to professional development pertaining to teaching, Discovery Education provides teaching resources. The Idaho State Department of Education has established a partnership with Discovery Education to provide Idaho educators access to more than 200,000 digital learning objects that cover all curriculum areas and meet Idaho Core Standards. These resources are available by logging into Schoolnet through the ISEE Portal and range from videos, high-quality images, math tutorials, encyclopedia articles, an interactive atlas, teachers’ guides and much more. Powered by Discovery Communications, the No. 1 nonfiction media brand in the world, Discovery Education is the leading provider of standards-based digital resources for the classroom. Discovery Education Streaming Plus captures the minds and imaginations of students by tapping into their natural curiosity and desire to learn.
Whether you access via SchoolNet, your school library website, or direct from LiLI.org; Libraries Linking Idaho (LiLI) has tools to support classroom learning. LiLI is a program of the Idaho Commission for Libraries. In place since 1998, LiLI has over 100 individual digital content tools. A selection of those tools useful in K12 learning are (Click here for the full update from LiLI):
Libraries Linking Idaho has been a part of Idaho education since 1998. Access the service at www.LiLI.org or at your own school library website. To learn more about using LiLI tools, talk to your school librarian or take a look at the training tutorials available at http://guides.lili.org/lilitutorials. Your school librarian can help you with more information. If LiLI is new to your school librarian, ask him/her to contact the Idaho Commission for Libraries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also available within Schoolnet are Open Educational Resources (OER) free to all Idaho educators. These OERs include educational gaming, mathematics, social sciences and many more categories that support many content areas for Idaho educators. While these resources are available as free resources, there are instances where the creators of these resources begin to charge fees. In this instance, the Department has provided an OER Suggestions Form to allow great Idaho educators to make suggestions of new OERs or to inform the SDE that a resource is no longer free.
Periodically, Schoolnet provides platform updates, enhancements and ‘bug’ fixes through a version update process. We are currently working in Schoolnet version 15.4. With each version upgrade, information is available to all Idaho teachers within the “See what’s New in Schoolnet” section located on the My Schoolnet Homepage.
This great resource will provide information on Schoolnet core enhancements, and also updates to each of the modules within the platform.
Equation Editor in the Test Tunnel: Students can now answer open-ended math problems with an advanced equation editor embedded directly into the test tunnel. This feature can be turned off and on by the administrator.
Exemplars: An item author can now input or attach a file to an Open Response item or task that illustrates exemplary student work. This is great for teachers who are looking for an exemplary example for grading reference.
Co-Authoring Folder Sharing Rights: Co-authoring folders now carry Item Central sharing rights, and allow item authors to collaborate easier than ever before.
Support Test Summary Statistics: We have enabled Schoolnet to facilitate the conversion of raw test scores to summary statistics values, including Percentile, Quartile, Stanine, Normal Curve Equivalent, Standard Score, Range, Mean Score, Median, and Standard Deviation.
Support for the Conversion from Classic to Enhanced Observations Toolset
New Observation Notifications
On the Test Details page, under ‘Status & Student Comments’, teachers and leaders can now see how many student comments are available at a glance without leaving the page.
A ‘Date Created’ filter has been added to the item central advanced search to make it easier to search for items either created or imported into the system on a single date or date range.
Progress bar color on the proctor dashboard for open response questions now reflects teacher scoring. Once a teacher scores an open response item, the light blue color of open response questions will change to red if the student received no credit, light green for partial credit, and dark green for full credit (analogous to our inline and matching item types).
Throughout the Schoolnet project in working with dozens of school district, the Idaho State Department of Education received feedback that more readily available training materials would be helpful in learning the Schoolnet platform. Several months ago the website Power Source was launched which houses dozens of training materials for teachers to access at their convenience.
Time constraints are always an issue for Idaho school teachers, and Power Source is available 24/7 allowing teachers the ability to learn about the valuable resources in Schoolnet when they have the time. For example, as a teacher you may ask how do I create an assessment in Schoolnet? Through Power Source, you can simply find your question in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) section, click on the resource and quickly find your answer. Power Source then becomes an ongoing resource for teachers, not only showing you a resource to answer your specific question, but also leading you to a multitude of resources related to your question about Schoolnet.
Think Through Math is excited to once again be a part of the Idaho Math Initiative as we provide math support to students throughout Idaho. As always, TTM is preparing a lot of great new features for the coming school year that will help students and teachers become even more successful. One of the biggest changes this coming year is that teachers and students will be accessing Think Through Math through the Idaho System for Educational Excellence (ISEE) portal - in the same way they currently access Discovery Education.
Additionally, this means you will no longer have to enroll students in TTM. Every student that was in an Idaho public school last year will automatically be enrolled in their default learning pathway based on their current grade level. This will save teachers time and will provide even easier access to TTM for every student in Idaho. NOTE: We recommend that you check your students’ learning pathways to ensure that it remains the pathway that you, the teacher, had previously assigned.
Teacher Directions for Logging onto TTM:
Your ISEE username is typically your district email address. Your password was set up by you the first time you logged into ISEE. If you do not remember this password you can click on the “forgot my password” link and you will be directed to choose a new password. If this is your first time logging in to the ISEE portal, click on the “register” link to create an account.
If you have any difficulty with this please do not hesitate to contact the State Department IT support. They can be reached at 208-332-6923 or email@example.com.
Once you have logged on you will be taken directly to your TTM teacher homepage. Your students will be enrolled so you will not enroll students manually. More details will be coming shortly detailing how to view your students and build your class list. For the meantime, please DO NOT enroll students yourself.
Think Through Math TIPS:
Idaho Digital Learning (IDLA) was created by the Idaho State Legislature (Title 33, Chapter 55 Idaho Code, 2002) and Idaho educators to serve Idaho learners and is recognized as a leader across the nation in online virtual education. IDLA was created to provide access, equity, and flexibility for students in the state of Idaho. The mission of IDLA is to serve students, school districts, and the state of Idaho by providing a high-quality public school education, aligned with state achievement standards, utilizing innovative e-learning methods of delivery.
IDLA has been able to effectively train teachers in both online and blended learning environments and course development through the iDigLearning Consortium, Intel Teach Elements, as well as teaching strategies for school counselors in career and academic counseling with the Collaborative Counselor Training Initiative (CCTI).
The iDigLearning Consortium is a statewide blended learning initiative led by IDLA. IDLA provides access to instructional technology, engaging digital curriculum, and customized professional development. Consortium members are given the resources and skills necessary to create a blended learning model for their classroom and are able to share curriculum with other consortium members across the state.
IDLA has made exciting changes in the blended learning consortium, based partly on feedback from trainings across the state, as well as information from the research project conducted by Northwest Nazarene University and published by iNacol (International Association for K-12 Blended and Online Learning).
The research project, Transforming K-12 Rural Education through Blended Learning: Barriers and Promising Practices, informed our program, and served as an agent for change to help us serve you.
Idaho Digital Learning is a new Intel Teach Elements Affiliate. This fall, IDLA will be offering Intel Teach Elements courses to all educators in the state! Topics available will include:
Through a generous grant from Intel, these courses will be offered during the fall at no cost. Courses will be available for Professional Development credit through both NNU and BSU. Educators wishing to earn credit for these courses will need to be prepared to pay the PD credit cost through one of our cooperating institutions.
Each course will begin October 6th and complete on November 21st. A detailed description of each course and registration information can be found here: http://pd.idla.us
The Collaborative Counselor Training Initiative (CCTI) will be hosted again by IDLA in collaboration with our CCTI partners, beginning in Spring 2015. The course will incorporate four modules, covering creating a college-bound culture within the school, academic advising, financial aid and college applications, and a new module focused on creating a college-bound culture at the middle school level. More information coming soon!
Idaho Digital Learning offers multiple opportunities for MAP School and Students. Students taking online courses as an overload through IDLA could advance through high school in order for them to graduate one, two or three years earlier than their peers.
For additional information on:
check out www.idahodigitallearning.org
The Idaho Education Network (IEN) provides free training and professional development opportunities, as well as two modules eligible for professional development credits through Boise State University. Contact IEN staff at 208-332-1801 to schedule.
As you begin to plan your activities throughout the school year, keep these opportunities in mind to enrich your students’ learning experience:
New state funding for dual credit and college-credit bearing exams available for the 2014/2015 school year
Beginning this school year, high school students attending public schools across Idaho will have access to new funding to help cover the costs of taking college-level courses or professional-technical certification exams while still in high school. This program, titled Fast Forward, is part of the SDE’s cluster of advanced opportunities, which include the 8 in 6 program, the Dual Credit for Early Completers Program and the Mastery Advancement Program. The Fast Forward program provides $200 for every junior and $400 for every senior to reduce the financial burden of earning college credit in high school. The funds will cover 75% of the cost of exams and courses providing college credit to juniors and seniors. The Advanced Opportunities are intended to ‘widen the on ramp’ for students to go on after high school and contribute to the State Board of Education’s goal that 60% of Idahoans aged 25 to 34 attain a postsecondary degree or credential by 2060. The SDE has implemented guidance and tools for district implementation in addition to hosting community meetings to inform parents and students throughout the state. More information about the Fast Forward program, and all Advanced Opportunities administered by the SDE, can be found at the following website: www.sde.idaho.gov/site/advancedOpp/ The SDE contact for these programs is Jennifer Caprile, Advanced Opportunities Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org / 208-332-6960).
The Digital Library for Formative Assessment www.sde.idaho.gov/site/formativeInterim/ is currently available to all Idaho educators. A preview of the Digital Library is available until September 30,, 2014. After that date, a more complete version will be available. The Digital Library provides professional and instructional resources linked to the formative assessment process, which takes place during classroom instruction. Districts must ‘provision’ all of their educators in order to access the Digital Library. Directions for how to complete that process as well as documents, PowerPoint presentations and videos about Digital Library use and functionality are available. www.sde.idaho.gov/site/formativeInterim/ Please log on and check it out, and don’t forget to provide your feedback and comments!