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Improving Outcomes for Native American Students: Addressing the Academic Language Gap

posted Apr 5, 2015, 8:59 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Apr 5, 2015, 9:14 PM ]

NCCC at McREL International's webinar entitled Improving Outcomes for Native American Students: Addressing the Academic Language presents information on the pilot project focused on reciprocal teaching and targeted academic language in two middle schools in South Dakota and Nebraska. The webinar agenda included:

·         Overview of the project

·         Sample of PD using the Reciprocal Teaching in Action video series

·         Summary of lessons learned and data collected to date

·         Q&A

Please visit this link to access the recorded webinar and a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation.

For more information, please contact Heather Hoak, Associate Director, North Central Comprehensive Center @ 303-632-5512 or hhoak@mcrel.org.

Save the Date! 2nd Annual North Dakota Indian Education Summit — July 7-8, 2015

posted Feb 26, 2015, 9:05 AM by Judy Counley   [ updated Feb 26, 2015, 9:13 AM ]

2nd Annual North Dakota Indian Education Summit 

July 7-8, 2015 

North Dakota State Capitol

Bismarck, ND 

Sponsored by:

North Dakota Department of Public Instruction

North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission

Lakota Nations Conference Convenes in South Dakota

posted Feb 5, 2015, 12:57 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Feb 6, 2015, 1:36 PM ]

NCCC offered several breakout sessions at the 36th Annual Lakota Nations Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, on December 17-20, 2014. The two breakout sessions offered during the conference included:

Improving American Indian Student Outcomes: Addressing the Academic Language Gap. This session provided an overview and sample of professional development from The Improving Native American Student Outcomes: Addressing the Academic Language Gap (Academic Language) pilot project that is being conducted by NCCC in two schools, one each in Nebraska and South Dakota. This session featured an interactive activity to help participants better understand targeted academic language and academic conversations.

SD LEAP and NativeStar: Shared Leadership and Use of Data = Continuous Improvement for American Indian Students. This session provided an overview of the SD LEAP and NativeStar systems, two online school improvement planning tools, both of which are based on the Indistar tool. It also featured a short video highlighting educators at five South Dakota schools – Knollwood Elementary School (RCAS); Cheyenne Eagle Butte Elementary (CEB Schools); Oehlrichs Public Schools; North Elementary and Todd County High School (Todd County Public Schools) – discussing the positive impact that shared leadership, using data, and focusing on every student has had on teaching and learning in schools with significant American Indian student populations.

In addition, on the first day of the conference, state liaison, Heather Hoak, attended the South Dakota Indian Education Advisory Council meeting to hear council members discuss current needs of American Indian students and to share information about the work of NCCC, in particular the pilot project (see above). William Mendoza, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, was also in attendance and updated the council on current federal initiatives related to Indian education. 

NCCC Staff Publish an Article in NASSP Journal

posted Feb 5, 2015, 12:56 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Feb 17, 2015, 9:29 AM ]

In the April issue of the NAASP Bulletin (available to NAASP members only), NCCC’s Jane Hill and Heather Hoak write about the need for English language learners (ELLs) to meet not only content standards but also English language proficiency standards. They explain the differences between the two, define the dimensions of academic language, and offer strategies for increasing academic conversations in the middle school classroom. The article also emphasizes the fact that students other than ELLs are in need of language development. McREL International has coined the acronym ALL which identifies all students as Academic Language Learners (ALL). Instructional leaders are provided with action steps for infusing classrooms with supportive structures for academic talk to benefit ALLs as well as ELLs.

New NCCC Video Series Illustrates an Effective Instructional Strategy

posted Feb 5, 2015, 12:54 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Feb 18, 2015, 9:17 AM ]

NCCC has produced a video series called Reciprocal Teaching in Action to provide technical assistance for this innovative and research-based instructional strategy. The videos were developed as part of NCCC’s Academic Language Gap project underway in two middle schools in Niobrara, Nebraska, and Wolf Creek, South Dakota, both of which have large numbers of American Indian students. Via on-site training and virtual professional development, 18 pilot participants are learning to use research-based instructional practices like reciprocal teaching to build their students’ content-specific and general academic language. NCCC staff will gather feedback from participants on how the videos helped them with implementation and as a form of virtual professional development. Access the video series : http://reciprocalteachinginaction.businesscatalyst.com/index.html

North Dakota Advocates Push for More Content on Native American Culture

posted Jan 5, 2015, 10:03 AM by Judy Counley   [ updated Jan 16, 2015, 5:25 PM ]

By next fall, state schools may be incorporating tribe-approved content on Native history and culture into their curriculum. But it's not just for non-Indian students, said Lucy Fredericks, state director of Indian Education.
"Sometimes, our own Native American students don't know about their culture and heritage," she said.

New Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction

posted Jan 2, 2015, 11:56 AM by Judy Counley

On January 1, 2015, Jillian Balow entered the Wyoming Department of Education as the new State Superintendent of Public Education.  She is a former school teacher and, most recently, an administrator with the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Balow says one of her top goals is to restore stability and credibility to the department while seeking out the expertise of school districts across the state. For the full story, see http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2014/11/05/news/01top_11-05-14.txt#.VKbsISvF98E

NCCC Notes - Highlighting Collaboration

posted Nov 21, 2014, 12:48 PM by Judy Counley

NCCC continues to collaborate with the Center on Early Education and Learning Outcomes (CEELO) in sponsoring quarterly conference calls with early childhood and education staff in the four North Central state education agencies. Topics discussed this year included:

  • SEA strategies for addressing early learning/early childhood needs
  •  Effective approaches to promoting collaboration at the state and local levels to support high- quality early childhood programs (guest participants were Jill Haglund, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and Katherine McGurk, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, both of whom are members of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners)
  •   Early learning standards alignment: Implications for formative assessment (guest participant was Catherine Scott-Little of the North Carolina K‒3rd Formative Assessment Consortium and director of the Early Learning and Development Standards Analysis Project)
  •   Professional development for teachers of young children (guest participant was Marcy Whitebook, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment)

In September of this year, NCCC supported the participation of two SEA teams from Nebraska and North Dakota in a national conference sponsored by the Center on School Turnaround (CST) in San Francisco. The conference, titled Building Systemic and Sustainable Turnaround Efforts: An SEA Discussion, included presentations and discussions about the exemplary initiatives of SEAs in 13 different states as well as the new priorities of the CST and the U.S. Department of Education. NCCC staff held a subsequent conversation with Nebraska and North Dakota participants about what they learned and how NCCC can further assist their SEAs as they continue to create structures and processes for supporting low-performing schools.

For more information about NCCC collaboration with other Content Centers and Regional Centers, contact Sue E. Mutchler, NCCC Associate Director (smutchler@mcrel.org or 303.459.5099). 

NCCC website. Information and resources from the states, the region, and the nation are available on the NCCC website. Resources produced by NCCC are also included on the site, including the new South Dakota LEAP video. Resources produced cooperatively with other organizations include the set of Formative Assessment Modules and a web-based tool on Writing Standards-Based IEP Goals. Also on the site are links to other organizations within the Comprehensive Center network, including seven Content Centers and other regional Comprehensive Centers.

NCCC Grant Year 3 projects and staff. In November, McREL International begins a third year of work as the Regional Comprehensive Center serving Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Watch for upcoming descriptions of Year 3 state and regional projects on the NCCC website. We also welcome two new NCCC staff for Year 3: Shelby Maier has taken on the role of North Dakota liaison and Judy Counley is our new Technology Manager.

Have questions? Contact NCCC Director Kathleen Dempsey at kdempsey@mcrel.org or 303.632.5634, or Associate Director Sue E. Mutchler at smutchler@mcrel.org or 303.459.5099.

School Leadership Teams Make a Difference for Students in South Dakota

posted Nov 14, 2014, 12:16 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Nov 21, 2014, 11:24 AM ]


NCCC has worked closely for the last two years with the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) to develop a system of supports for its lowest performing schools. Central to that work is SD LEAP (South Dakota Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress), a customized web-based tool using Indistar®, which helps schools establish leadership teams that can guide continuous improvement processes. SD DOE began using Indistar® in 2012, as part of its Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver, to provide support to its Priority and Focus Schools. (Focus Schools are those with large achievement gaps between student groups; Priority Schools are those schools with low overall student performance.) Used by more than 26 state education agencies across the country, the Indistar® system helps school leadership teams inform and coach teachers, sustain their efforts, and track and report improvement activities.  

In April 2014, a small team of NCCC and SD DOE staff traveled over 900 miles across the state to capture the success stories of five schools using the SD LEAP system: Knollwood Heights Elementary (Rapid City), Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School (Eagle Butte), Oelrichs School District (Oelrichs), and North Elementary and Todd County High School (Mission)—all of which serve a high percentage of American Indian students. NCCC produced a video featuring each school leadership team sharing insights on the empowering impact of shared leadership and school leadership teams; the importance of using data and research-based practices to guide improvement efforts; and, most importantly, the positive effects that shared leadership is having on students. The video is available at http://www.mcrel.org/centers-and-programs/nccc (click on “North Central Comprehensive Center” and then the link, “South Dakota LEAP – Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress Video”). You can also see the video on YouTubeFor more information or questions, please contact South Dakota State Liaison Heather Hoak at hhoak@mcrel.org or 303.632.5512.

NCCC has worked closely for the last two years with the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) to develop a system of supports for its lowest performing schools. Central to that work is SD LEAP (South Dakota Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress), a customized web-based tool using Indistar®, which helps schools establish leadership teams that can guide continuous improvement processes. SD DOE began using Indistar® in 2012, as part of its Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver, to provide support to its Priority and Focus Schools. (Focus Schools are those with large achievement gaps between student groups; Priority Schools are those schools with low overall student performance.) Used by more than 26 state education agencies across the country, the Indistar® system helps school leadership teams inform and coach teachers, sustain their efforts, and track and report improvement activities.  

In April 2014, a small team of NCCC and SD DOE staff traveled over 900 miles across the state to capture the success stories of five schools using the SD LEAP system: Knollwood Heights Elementary (Rapid City), Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School (Eagle Butte), Oelrichs School District (Oelrichs), and North Elementary and Todd County High School (Mission)—all of which serve a high percentage of American Indian students. NCCC produced a video featuring each school leadership team sharing insights on the empowering impact of shared leadership and school leadership teams; the importance of using data and research-based practices to guide improvement efforts; and, most importantly, the positive effects that shared leadership is having on students. The video is available at http://www.mcrel.org/centers-and-programs/nccc (click on “North Central Comprehensive Center” and then the link, “South Dakota LEAP – Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress Video”). You can also see the video on YouTubeFor more information or questions, please contact South Dakota State Liaison Heather Hoak at hhoak@mcrel.org or 303.632.5512.

  


Indian Education Conferences Convene Annually in All Four NCCC States

posted Nov 14, 2014, 12:14 PM by Judy Counley   [ updated Nov 14, 2014, 12:17 PM ]

In the past few months, all four NCCC states have held annual Indian education conferences: Nebraska convened its 16th Annual Native American Student Achievement Symposium at Wayne State College on October 6; the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) convened the 11th annual South Dakota Indian Education Summit in Pierre on September 28‒30; the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) held the fifth annual Wyoming Native American Education Conference in Riverton on August 12‒13; and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (ND DPI) and the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission (NDIAC) sponsored the state’s first North Dakota Indian Education Summit on July 22 at the State Capitol in Bismarck. All four conferences brought together teachers, administrators, parents, and community members to learn from experts in the field and engage in discussions about improving the education of native students in their states.

Nebraska’s event, the longest-tenured annual conference in the North Central region, was themed Data Driven Decision Making and focused specifically on assessment and providing educational opportunities for every student, every day. Highlights included:

  • John Baylor's keynote address, “We Can't Afford Apathetic Students Anymore: A Plan for Motivating Your Students and Their Parents,” which emphasized the importance of creating a college-bound atmosphere in every school. He also encouraged educators in reservation schools to help students better understand the needs of their local communities and pursue careers in education, medical fields, and business, and as tradesmen.
  • Breakout sessions presented by Educational Service Unit 1 (ESU 1) professional development staff and staff from the four reservation consortium schools centered on using and interpreting various forms of data, with the main focus being educator better use of state MAPS data.

South Dakota sponsored the 11th Annual South Dakota Indian Education Summit to disseminate a variety of information about local education initiatives across the state as well as highlight the knowledge of selected experts in the field of Native American education. Summit high points included:

  •  Keynote speeches from Brian Frejo of the Pawnee/Seminole Nations on the “Power of Vision and Action” for Indian youth and from John Gritts of the Cherokee Nation on opportunities for high school graduates in higher education.
  • Break-out sessions (identified by SD DOE with assistance from NCCC) that focused on promising programs and practices associated with the educational success of Native American students in the state. Many of the sessions were led or presented by South Dakota educators, district staff, members of university and state organizations, and students themselves.
  • Heather Hoak, NCCC liaison to South Dakota, led a panel discussion with teachers and principals who are using the SD LEAP continuous school improvement model, which included a presentation of the SD LEAP video produced by NCCC. Ms. Hoak also conducted a session on improving Native American student outcomes by addressing the academic language gap.

Wyoming convened its fifth annual Wyoming Native American Education Conference to provide educators and community members with the knowledge necessary to help students experience educational success—from pre-K through high school and into post-secondary education/training—and ultimately become strong adult members of their communities. The 2014 Wyoming conference pursued this goal by offering opportunities for participants to interact across a broad range of issues, including building partnerships among educators, families, and the community; embedding history and culture in schooling; and using best practices in literacy and mathematics instruction.

Finally, the goal of North Dakota’s first Indian Education Summit was to create a new and ongoing mechanism for disseminating information about Native American educational issues and emerging promising practices. The summit focused on strategies for integrating language and culture into curriculum. NCCC partnered with ND DPI in developing a uniquely North Dakota event, including helping design break-out sessions and address general planning issues. Highlights included the following.

  • Keynote speaker Denise Juneau, Superintendent of the Montana Office of Public Instruction (MT OPI), provided information on the state’s policies that govern the education of American Indian students and a set of standards developed and being implemented across the state, called Indian Education for All. A second general session featured a presentation by Sunshine Archambault-Carlow of the Standing Rock Education Consortium.
  •  NCCC liaison Heather Hoak led a panel discussion on how to improve student attendance. In another session, she facilitated small- group discussions that centered on a range of innovations for reducing student dropout; building student academic language; and leading continuous school improvement.
  • The Summit created a lot of media interest, including a press conference with North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau as well as local news stories (see http://www.kmot.com/story/26125430/teachers-attend-indian-education-summit).
For more information on these conferences, contact Nebraska State Liaison Cathi Johnson (cjohnson@mcrel.org or 303.459.5036); North Dakota State Liaison Shelby Maier (smaier@mcrel.org or 303.632.5611); South Dakota State Liaison Heather Hoak (hhoak@mcrel.org or 303.632.5512); or Wyoming State Liaison Sue E. Mutchler (smutchler@mcrel.org or 303.459.5099).

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