September 10, 2013

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1. Instruction is Key

A Message from State Superintendent Tony Evers

As the still new school year moves along, and we continue the education initiatives of our Agenda 2017, I want to share my belief that strong, effective instructional practices are what will help us reach our rigorous goals for reading and mathematics proficiency, college and career readiness, and boosting graduation rates.

Throughout Wisconsin, I have witnessed amazing teaching and learning. I have seen students engaged and making connections to their backgrounds and interests, challenged to meet higher expectations; and, I have seen teachers doing great work and adjusting instruction to meet the needs of all learners.

The Department of Public Instruction and our partners are working hard to support this. Every day, we provide resources and opportunities on our website (for example, on the Common Core Professional Learning on Demand or the Universal Design for Learning pages) to help educators employ strong instructional practices in every classroom in every school in Wisconsin.

As you well know, every student has the right to learn, and their instruction must be rigorous and relevant; students bring their own strengths and experiences to learning, and they will be engaged by responsive environments.

You will be hearing about practices like Universal Design for Learning, personalized learning, and a multi-level system of supports. These are all just instructional tools and practices to bring us closer to the goal of every child a graduate, college and career ready.

During these times of change and higher expectations, we need to stay focused on high quality instructional practices to help us reach all of our students.

And don’t forget to find me, the DPI, or a specific DPI program on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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2. Title I Schools of Recognition

State Superintendent Tony Evers is honoring 167 schools for providing excellent education to student populations with a high percentage of poverty. A school that receives federal Title I funding can be a Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition by meeting certain test-participation, attendance, and dropout goals, as well as the criteria of one of three categories:

High-Achieving Schools demonstrate solid student performance including minimal or shrinking achievement gaps.

High-Progress Schools are in the top 10 percent for either growth in elementary reading and mathematics achievement or high school graduation. They also have minimal or shrinking achievement gaps.

Beating the Odds Schools triumph over an especially high degree of poverty by demonstrating above-average reading and mathematics achievement when compared to similar schools.

Each school will receive $500 and, depending on how many years they have earned the award, a plaque, flag, or banner to promote their success.

One school – Marengo Valley School in the Ashland School District – has earned the award for all 11 years of the program.

“The staff and administration of these schools are committed to breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs,” Evers said.

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3. Next Year’s Assessments - Now

Educators have the opportunity this year to make use of, and begin transitioning to, the new, smarter assessments based on the Common Core State Standards that will be used in Wisconsin starting next year.

Because they are based on the Common Core, there are a number of ways different people might want to use the materials already provided on the Smarter Balanced website:

Classroom teachers can use the practice and pilot items (http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test - click on the green bike; site works best in Firefox or Chrome) with students in order to gauge students’ proficiency in the Common Core State Standards, as well as their readiness to complete an on-line assessment.

Educator leaders and coaches can use these to inform work with their professional learning communities around assessment and instructional design.

Coaches and curriculum and instruction directors may find the consortium’s descriptions of how to assess the Common Core State Standards (http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balanced-assessments) helpful as they develop common grade-level or content-area assessments.

Smarter Balanced is a consortium of 26 states and territories, including Wisconsin.

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4. BadgerLink Redesigned, Easier to Use

The website that unlocks vaults of online information for Wisconsin residents has been completely redesigned, based on feedback from users – including students and educators.

The new look of BadgerLink is clean, colorful, and easy to use. Its myriad online holdings can be searched not only by the usual suspects (title, subject, format, etc.) but also by user type, grade or reading level.

There is a page for students (easily readable, with resources organized by subject) and a page for educators (featuring classroom and professional development resources).

Many materials are aligned with – and searchable by – Wisconsin’s academic standards, including the Common Core. There are also Spanish language and bilingual versions of some resources. Music, videos, images, and podcasts are plentiful as well.

BadgerLink can be a valuable resource for parents, too, since it’s available at no cost from home or school (within Wisconsin). The databases include resources that support literacy, offer read-aloud functionality, provide health information, book recommendations and more. The site includes outreach materials and logos to help teachers get the word out to parents.

The new site is mobile friendly. BadgerLink can be followed via an Email List, Badger Bulletin RSS, Slideshare, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.

Contact BadgerLink staff with any questions: http://badgerlink.net/help/contact-us.

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5. Postsecondary, CESAs Help Implement Common Core

Last spring, state-level education leaders in Wisconsin met to review and accept recommendations of the state’s College Readiness Partnership, a group of education leaders working to collaborate around implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

The recommendations set the stage for effective collaboration between the state’s cooperative education service agencies (CESAs), public schools, and postsecondary institutions (including the UW system, technical college campuses, and private colleges).

“I appreciate the work of this collaborative group,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “The Common Core State Standards reflect the rigor our kids need in order to graduate college and career ready.”

Wisconsin was selected in 2011 as one of nine states to participate in a College Readiness Partnership (CRP) program – part of a national effort by national public K-12 and secondary schools and systems to align PK-16 efforts around the Common Core standards.

Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities noted, "Wisconsin is the only state that has its official organization of private, nonprofit colleges and universities ‘at the table’ as equal partners. The result has been a deeper engagement by higher education and greater innovation and creativity in developing integrated responses."

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said, “The College Readiness Partnership and other collaborative efforts are important in positioning Wisconsin high school students for post-graduation success.”

Jesse Harness, Commissioner of the CESA Statewide Network, said: “Through this committed, coordinated and sustained partnership, we can help our students be more successful in their educational and career pathways.”

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6. Effectiveness, Middle-Level, and Other Conferences

Highlights of some of this fall’s conferences:

What do district administrators need to do now, to ensure next year’s successful implementation of the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System? The DPI’s Educator Effectiveness team will answer that question during the Fall Superintendents Conference, September 25-27, 2013, in Madison. The conference is presented by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators in cooperation with the DPI.

Wisconsin educators have the rare opportunity to attend a premiere, national-quality professional development event for the middle grades: the Association for Middle Level Educators (AMLE) Annual Conference for Middle Level Education in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 7-9, 2013. The event caters to a variety of learning styles – sessions range from 20 to 75 minutes – and to virtually any teacher, support staff, or administrator working with students ages 10-15. In a cutting edge “Classroom 2.0” environment, teachers will attend sessions about technology.

More professional development opportunities are always available on the Wisconsin Education Calendar.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Instruction is Key

2.Title I Schools of Recognition

3. Next Year’s Assessments - Now

4. BadgerLink Redesigned, Easier to Use

5. Postsecondary, CESAs Help Implement Common Core

6. Effectiveness, Middle-Level, and Other Conferences

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