3-15-13 Field Memo

Commissioner’s Weekly Field Memo
Friday, March 15, 2013



Notes from Commissioner Gist


1. Board of Education holds initial meeting

2. Rhode Island educators to discuss secondary-school innovations at regional forum 

3. Funding available for renovations to make schools accessible to those with disabilities 

4. RIDE considering options for sustaining Induction Program


From the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE)


Educator Evaluations:


5. RIDE responds to questions, concerns from principals regarding evaluations 

6. RIDE schedules make-up Module 1 training session for personnel evaluating building administrators

7. RIDE requests information about Evaluation ISP plans – Action Item

Professional Development: 


8. RIDE offers additional professional development sessions on ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards 

Technology:


9. Project 24 offers free resources to help districts advance digital learning

10. RIDE seeks participants for focus groups on WaytogoRI website enhancements

Educator Certification:


11. RIDE to begin issuing new certificate for out-of-state educators new to Rhode Island

Surveys:


12. SurveyWorks attains 100-percent school participation

From the U.S. Department of Education

13. U.S. Department of Education issues letter on implementation of equitable services for students in nonpublic schools


From other organizations

14. RIASCD reschedules Pre-service and Beginning Teacher Conference

15. Achieve to hold webinar on newly designed website on college and career readiness

16. National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education seeks applicants for its program of study


Action Item Calendar

Today (March 15): Textbook lists due

March 22: Evaluation ISP forms due (see below)


Notes from Commissioner Gist

1. Board of Education holds initial meeting

Monday evening (March 11) marked the beginning of a new phase of school governance in Rhode Island, as the newly constituted Board of Education held its initial meeting. The 11-member Board of Education, established in law last year, has taken on the powers and duties of the former Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education. Over the past two months, I have had many meetings and conversations with Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso, and she and I see an exciting opportunity to build even stronger partnerships between our PK-12 education system and our colleges and universities, particularly regarding college and career-ready standards, workforce development, and data sharing. As Chair Mancuso said earlier this month in her confirmation hearing before the Senate:

The challenge for us all is to find common ground to move this mission forward, quickly but with a conscious understanding that human behavior takes time to change. We don't have time for years of study nor is progress measured by numbers alone but if we listen to each other, keep our focus on the mission and goal we will be successful. We have to be successful, because education is our opportunity for prosperity. We all have a stake in the outcome, so we all have to join together to find the solutions.  

I look forward to working with Chair Mancuso and the other Board members on the many important issues before us as we strive to make our schools – including our colleges! – America’s best. I’m sure you and your team members will do everything possible to make this transition to the new governance system as seamless as possible as we build stronger links between our initiatives and the ongoing work in Rhode Island higher education. 

2. Rhode Island educators to discuss secondary-school innovations at regional forum 

As we work together to accelerate our schools toward greatness, schools across Rhode Island are committed to exploring innovations that advance teaching and learning at all grade levels. I am proud that three of our schools will join the New England Secondary School Consortium regional conference next week (March 21 and 22) to share their successful strategies. A team of educators from the Cumberland Schools will speak about their experience in moving “toward an authentic, proficiency-based diploma that will prepare every graduate for college, careers, and citizenship.”  Superintendent Barnes and a team from the Ponaganset secondary schools will discuss multiple pathways, including their recently established STEM Academy pathway and other pathways they have developed the arts, agriculture, alternative energy. A team from the English Department at Rogers High School will present on the “Newport as a Museum” project and the partnerships they have formed with the Newport Preservation Society and other local organizations. While each of these programs is different in design, all of them serve the best interest of our students, and I am glad that our educators have the opportunity to share their ideas and achievements in this regional forum. 


3. Funding available for renovations to make schools accessible to those with disabilities 

The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities has informed me that Rhode Island has funds available under the Help America Vote Act  that we can use to ensure better access into schools that are used as polling places during elections. Christopher P. DeGrave, the Assistant State ADA Coordinator, intends to contact you to discuss the available of funding. As he notes in a letter to me, if you are planning to modify school entrances, in particular with regard to school safety, it is also important to consider accessibility for those with disabilities as part of the project. 

The Commission is accepting funding applications for renovations concerning access to polling places. The Commission has further information about this funding opportunity on its website, www.disabilities.ri.gov. You can call Mr. DeGrave, at 462-0108. 


4. RIDE considering options for sustaining Induction Program

Our Induction Program, which provides support for new and for some second-year teachers through funding from our Race to the Top grant, has been an important part of our effort to help teachers get off to a great start at the outset of their careers and to ensure that we have excellent teachers in every classroom. To date, about 600 teachers have participated in this program. As you may know, the number of new teachers nearly doubled during the current school year, which has made the program more costly than we had anticipated in our Race to the Top budget. We have been discussing this matter at RIDE, and I have had conversations with the leadership of RISSA about how we can support the Induction Program next year and beyond the term of the Race to the Top grant. I will keep you informed about this issue. 


From RIDE

Educator Evaluations:

5. RIDE responds to questions, concerns from principals regarding evaluations 

On January 18, RIDE leadership met with members from the Rhode Island Association of School Principals (RIASP) Immediate Action Group (IAG). As always, it was a productive and helpful discussion. We welcome your feedback through RIASP, the RIASP IAG, or individually so that we can continue to improve the implementation of all our critical initiatives. We discussed several items that would be helpful to all Rhode Island Model superintendents and principals.

Principals requested additional information from Teachscape regarding testing windows, number of times allowed for retesting, and a few other items. All the Framework for Teaching Proficiency System (FFTPS) FAQs on the RIDE website have been fully updated with responses to all questions raised by RIASP.

Please note: This information does not apply to Providence principals; they are following district-established requirements for FFTPS.

Specifically, principals wanted to clarify the training expectations. RIDE has established the expectation that all RI Model evaluators complete and pass the FFTPS assessment by June 15. This deadline was extended from the original November 2012 deadline. When we extended the deadline several months ago, we also communicated in the November 9, 2012, Field Memo the expectation that all evaluators pass the assessment:

Principals have asked RIDE about consequences for not completing the assessment. The decision about any consequence is a local decision, made by the superintendent. We will provide passing-rate data to superintendents upon request. Although we will not impose any specific consequence through the certification process related to completion of this aspect of training, it is important to remember that following all the parameters of any approved model, including training, ensures a fair process for all involved. The Evaluation System Standards outline expectations that all approved models include rigorous training designed to ensure that evaluators make accurate judgments about performance. The failure of participating evaluators to complete core training could jeopardize the ability of the LEA to direct professional development and to take other job actions stemming from educator evaluation. For this reason, RIDE sees this as an issue for the employer district rather than for the state. 

The IAG shared with RIDE leadership that some principals would prefer to receive e-mail notifications rather than needing to go to the RIDEMAP site when there are system issues with the new platforms such as IMS and EPSS. We are sharing this feedback with our Helpdesk staff and others to consider how we best communicate about our new systems.  
We posted the RIDE data-confidentiality policies for student and educator data on our website a couple of months ago. You can find the policies at the bottom of the page.


6. RIDE schedules make-up Module 1 training session for personnel evaluating building administrators

In response to feedback from the field, RIDE has scheduled a final, make-up Module 1 training session for personnel evaluating building administrators. The session is scheduled for 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27, at the Pawtucket Administration Building, 286 Main St. Module 1 is required for all personnel evaluating building administrators in LEAs implementing the Rhode Island Model Building Administrator Evaluation and Support System. Evaluators can register for Module 1 by going to the Workshop Calendar in eRIDE.

7. RIDE requests information about Evaluation ISP plans – Action Item

Superintendents and charter-school leaders with assigned Evaluation Intermediary Service Providers (ISPs) have received an update on their remaining budget for ISP support and have been asked to complete a brief ISP sustainability form. The form asks schools and districts to consider how they plan on using their remaining Evaluation ISP funds and to provide feedback on the quality of support provided by their Evaluation ISP. Please send completed Evaluation ISP sustainability forms to Jacqueline McKinney by Friday, March 22. 


Professional Development: 

8. RIDE offers additional professional development sessions on ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards

 
We are pleased to be able to offer additional professional development sessions on the ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards at the end of June. The sessions will cover academic vocabulary, text complexity, text-dependent questions, and writing an argument, which we have covered in previous professional development sessions throughout the year. The sessions in June will be dedicated to assisting LEAs in developing a cadre of LEA or school leaders to facilitate professional development (PD) at the school or LEA level. 
 
Using the drop-down calendar box in the Workshop Registration System, select the “Common Core State Standards - Professional Development” button. It will take you to the list of workshops. Once logged in, you may register your participants.

Individual LEAs may desire to have one of the PD sessions held at the LEA or school level. Sessions will be available at a cost of $3,100. This charge will cover the cost of the trainers and materials for the session. An LEA wanting more information on the maximum number of participants, facility requirements, time-frame of session, etc. should contact Kate Schulz.
 
For questions regarding the June sessions, please contact Diane Girard or Colleen O’Brien.
 

Technology:

9. Project 24 offers free resources to help districts advance digital learning

Project 24, which is an initiative from the Alliance for Excellent Education Digital Learning Day program, provides tangible assistance to LEAs for systemic planning around the effective use of technology and digital learning to achieve the goal of college and career readiness for all students. Project 24 is a one-stop shop of comprehensive district-level planning tools, expert advice, creative ideas, and tangible suggestions from experienced education experts and nonprofit education membership organizations.

Project 24 components include:

  • Free Self Assessment for district leaders, resulting in a district-level report; 
  • Interactive Tools to Support the Digital Learning Transition;  
  • Communities of Practice;  
  • FREE Online Course: MOOC-Ed for Digital Transition Initiative Leaders (kick-off on April 8);
  • Webinars ;
  • Team of District Level Experts; and  
  • Expert Blogs .
Other resources include:

  • Project 24 Flyer ;
  • Project 24 Introductory PowerPoint ;
  • Planning for Quality Decision Tree ; and 
  • Classifying K-12 Blended Learning – Delivery Models.

 
10. RIDE seeks participants for focus groups on WaytogoRI website enhancements


Recently, RIDE reaffirmed its support of WaytogoRI with funding from a federal grant. The grant will support the implementation of a high-school electronic transcript as well as further enhancements to our portal. We are entering an exciting phase of this work, and we want you to join us in a focus group to give us your ideas and your feedback on the upcoming enhancements to WaytogoRI.
 
The focus groups will take place next week. There will be three different dates, and we invite you to join us at the one that is most convenient for you. Please reply to Lisa Shevlin with the date that is best for you, and we will follow up with more information.
 
Focus Group I
Date: Tuesday (March 19)
Time: 8:30 - 11 a.m.
Location: Northern Rhode Island Collaborative
                    640 George Washington Highway
                    Lincoln 02865
 
Focus Group II
Date: Tuesday (March 19)
Time: 1 - 3:30 p.m.
Location: RIHEAA
                    560 Jefferson Boulevard
                    Warwick 02886
 
Focus Group III
Date: Wednesday (March 20)
Time:  8:30 - 11 a.m.
Location:   RIHEAA
                    560 Jefferson Boulevard
                    Warwick 02886


Educator Certification:

11. RIDE to begin issuing new certificate for out-of-state educators new to Rhode Island


As of April 3, RIDE will begin issuing a Temporary Initial Educator Certificate. This certificate is available to educators from other states who are new to Rhode Island and meet all Rhode Island certification requirements except meeting Rhode Island certification test requirements. The Temporary Initial Educator Certificate is valid for one year and is not renewable. The purpose of this certificate is to allow out-of-state educators to serve in Rhode Island schools while they work to complete Rhode Island certification test requirements. 

The Temporary Initial Educator Certificate was developed as part of the certification regulations that went into effect last year for implementation as of January 1, 2015.  The certificate was modeled on comparable certificates in other states. Based on feedback from school districts and the field, we have expedited the timeline for this certificate, and, with the recent approval from the Board of Education, educators will be able to apply for this certificate beginning next month.

Please contact our Office of Educator Quality and Certification if you have any questions about this certificate.


Surveys:

12. SurveyWorks attains 100-percent school participation


Thank you to all schools for participating in SurveyWorks this year. All surveys close at the end of today (March 15). This year, we achieved participation by 100-percent of public schools in the state. Site coordinators worked hard to make sure that students, teachers and instructional staff, administrators, and parents were informed about the survey, and the coordinators worked hard to encourage participation.
 
Schools that have collected Parent Surveys on paper should send the surveys to the survey vendor, WestEd, at:  SurveyWorks; 300 Unicorn Park Drive; 5th Floor; Woburn, Mass. 01801. 
 
Over the next few weeks, we will be working to determine response rates so as to ensure they most accurately represent school participation. Student Survey response rates will be adjusted based on March enrollment numbers. Parent Survey response rates will be adjusted based on the number of unique addresses per school. Schools will be contacted to verify that their teacher and instructional staff numbers are accurate. 
 
Thanks again for your continued participation in SurveyWorks! For more information or if you have questions, contact Peg Votta

From the U.S. Department of Education

13. U.S. Department of Education issues letter on implementation of equitable services for students in  nonpublic schools 

Please see this message from the U.S. Department of Education Intergovernmental Affairs Office: 

The U.S. Department of Education issued a letter yesterday (March 14) announcing the Department’s plan for improving the implementation of equitable services requirements under applicable programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The plan, which aligns with current statutory and regulatory requirements, demonstrates the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to ensure effective implementation of these equitable services provisions. The plan does not place new requirements on state and local educational agencies. Rather, it focuses on how the U.S. Department of Education will support the collaborative work of state and local public-school officials and private-school leaders to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of these requirements and the delivery of services.  

The letter is posted on the U.S. Department of Education website.


From other organizations

14. RIASCD reschedules Pre-service and Beginning Teacher Conference

Please see this notice from RIASCD: 

The 10th annual RIASCD Pre-Service and Beginning Teacher Conference, originally scheduled to be held last month, has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 6,  from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., at  Johnston High School. Registration is now open for this event, and the cost is $20. This conference affords the opportunity to hear an opening keynote by the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, as well as to select from a menu of workshops offered over two sessions. Since this event is designed for pre-service and beginning teachers, this is an exceptionally worthwhile conference for your teacher candidates to consider attending.  Registration information is posted on the RIASCD website
.  

15. Achieve to hold webinar on newly designed website on college and career readiness

Please see this invitation from Achieve:

On Tuesday, March 26, from 2 - 3 p.m., Achieve will host an informational ADP Network webinar on the re-launch of the Future Ready Project Website.  After collecting feedback on and reactions to the Achieve advocacy resource center over the past year, the Future Ready Project, we are proud to present the new and improved Future Ready Project 2.0 website. With a sleeker design and more easily navigable pages, the website provides research-based communications and advocacy materials to support the sustainability of the college- and career-ready agenda and its related policies, including the Common Core State Standards, college- and career-ready assessments, rigorous graduation requirements, and advances to state accountability systems.

On the webinar, we will walk through new features and resources available on the website – which  represent all of Achieve’s communications, outreach, and advocacy resources; hear from stakeholders who have made great use of the site before and after the re-launch; discuss how the website can and should be used by states in their communications and outreach efforts, and describe what our plans are moving forward to engage advocates through the site and related social media.  We encourage you to invite your communications and public information officers join this particular webinar. Full details on how to join the webinar are below.  We hope you can join us!
 
To join the ADP Network Webinar on Tuesday, March 26, from 2 – 3  p.m.:

Please dial: 1 (800) 250-2693 and use conference ID 6290 050#

16. National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education seeks applicants for its program of study


Please see this message from the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education: 


The National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) delivers a program of student specifically designed for high-performing K-12 classroom teachers. The goal is to equip experienced teachers with the tools to:

  • broaden and deepen their classroom practice;
  • serve as teacher leaders outside their classrooms with peers and other adults; and
  • reaffirm their commitment to the profession of classroom teaching.
The program consists of a 350-hour summer-academic year-summer learning sequence, including two three-week-long Summer Academies (each summer includes one week of intense pre-work and ten days in residence) and one long-weekend during the academic year, focused on Teaching & Learning and Supporting & Leading. This year, the Summer Academy will be held in Rhode Island.