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1. Standards Explained for Community

To help community members understand what Wisconsin’s academic standards are and how we arrived at them, an editorial from State Superintendent Tony Evers explains that Wisconsin wants every student to graduate from high school “ready for on-the-job training, an apprenticeship, or coursework at a college or university.”

With a goal of “increasing the rigor of Wisconsin’s 1998 Model Academic Standards,” Evers writes, “We brought together leaders from business, commerce, workforce, and higher education to tell us what they expected from our graduates. As a result, Wisconsin’s new standards for mathematics, English language arts, and literacy are higher than our old standards and are more focused.”

Defending the concept of “having common expectations for public education,” he cites the benefits for children who experience lots of mobility such as those in military families. “Why would learning to add, compute the area of a rectangle, or write a persuasive essay be different or at different grade levels in Fond du Lac or Hudson, Wisconsin or Kentucky?”

Also, thanks to these new standards, more students are “earning college credits right away rather than needing remedial coursework” and “businesses know what to expect from any Wisconsin high school graduate.”

Evers clarifies that “curriculum, textbook selection, lesson plans — those are still the purview of local communities and educators.”

He quotes former teachers of the year JoAnn Lens (Milwaukee) and Terry Kaldhusdal (Kettle Moraine) who say the new standards are helping their students gain deeper understanding.

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2. International Opportunities for Students, Teachers

The application process is now open for a number of DPI-sponsored international opportunities for students and educators:

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3. Kowalczyk in Line for Million Dollar Honor

Wisconsin teacher Sandra Kowalczyk is one of 50 finalists for a prize worth a million dollars.

This is the first year for the Global Teacher Prize, a project of the Varkey GEMS Foundation (which also did a recent groundbreaking survey on attitudes toward teachers in various countries). The award looks for criteria such as innovative and effective instructional practices, previous recognitions, preparing children to be global citizens, encouraging others to join the teaching profession, and more.

Kowalczyk, a reading specialist at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, was the 2008-09 Wisconsin Middle/Junior High Teacher of the Year. The other finalists include 15 other Americans along with 34 educators from around the world.

Sandra Kowalczyk talking to a student

This Wisconsin State Journal photo from 2008 highlights Kowalczyk’s committment to students. Her principal, Clark Luessman, told the Wisconsin State Journal that she is “set apart by her passion for wanting to help kids grow — not just academically, but emotionally and intellectually. She’s committed to kids and the educational profession.” Photo: Andy Manis/Wisconsin State Journal, 2008.

Teachers were able to apply for the prize.

The winner will be decided by a 66-member “academy” — a truly international group, including some big names, representing education, business, nonprofits, and government from every continent (yes, every continent — it’s as though the group anticipated this phrasing, in that the affiliation of one member, astronomer Merieme Chadid, is listed as “Antarctica Research Station”).

The Varkey GEMS Foundation is a nonprofit that works “to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children.” Its Honorary Chairman is former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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4. SkillsUSA Middle School Launches with Wisconsin Ceremony

This fall the career and technical student organization, SkillsUSA, launched its national middle school presence with a ceremony right here in Wisconsin, where middle school SkillsUSA classes have been taught for many years.

The celebration, held in Watertown in October, featured remarks by Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction; Tim Lawrence, executive director, SkillsUSA; and Watertown students and educators.

SkillsUSA is now welcoming middle-school members into the national organization for the first time. They are eligible to join local SkillsUSA chapters in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, with several other states expected to jump on the bandwagon in the near future.

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5. Wisconsin Covenant - Senior Confirmation

With up to $10,000 in college funding at stake, educators are encouraged to remind and help high school seniors who signed the Wisconsin Covenant Pledge in eighth grade to take action by April 1, 2015.

Seniors who expect to graduate with a grade point average of 2.85 of higher should:

  1. Download and complete the Senior Confirmation and Record of Service forms at wisconsincovenant.wi.gov
  2. Submit completed, signed Senior Confirmation and Record of Service forms to the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board (HEAB) by April 1, 2015
  3. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at FAFSA.gov by April 1, 2015

Seniors who aren’t sure whether they signed the pledge in eighth grade are encouraged to call HEAB at 608-267-9389 or email Garth.Beyer@wi.gov to ask.

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6. E-Rate Open, with Changes

New E-rate application forms have been released by the independent, not-for-profit corporation federally designated to administer the program.

Previous filers will see little difference in the E-rate certification form (Form 470), but there are some changes in the Form 471 (“Services Ordered and Certification Form”).

To assist schools and libraries with the transition to E-rate 2.0, the DPI has revamped its E-rate webpage to ensure it is the place to go for the latest Wisconsin E-rate information.

DPI consultants Stuart Ciske and Ryan Claringbole have taken over as state E-rate coordinators for schools and public libraries respectively. In addition, the DPI has introduced an E-rate Professional Learning Community on Google as a venue for communication amongst schools, libraries, and the DPI. The existing WiErate Email List is also still operational.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Standards Explained for Community

2. International Opportunities for Students, Teachers

3. Kowalczyk in Line for Million Dollar Honor

4. SkillsUSA Middle School Launches with Wisconsin Ceremony

5. Wisconsin Covenant — Senior Confirmation

6. E-Rate Open, with Changes

DPI-ConnectEd comes from the office of State Superintendent Tony Evers
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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374