Rachel Wise, District 3 Representative,

Nebraska State Board of Education

A Wise Discussion:

Monthly Articles for Thought and Discussion

June 2014

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education

Hats off to High Ability Learners!

    It is hard to believe that we are practically half way through the month of June! The Nebraska State Board of Education met June 5th and 6th, however, we will not be meeting in July. This will give me an opportunity in July to write about any topic that I want to...it might be a month for more opinion versus fact!

    A highlight this month was the final report and recommendations of a study committee on High Ability Learners (also referred to as gifted students). Hats off to the outstanding work of the study committee chaired by Lynn Cronk, who represents District 6. One of the primary recommendations calls for the State Board of Education’s legislative committee to review options for asking the Legislature to maintain and possibly increase funding for High Ability Learners. Additional recommendations included the development of a technical assistance guide that would provide model programs to support school districts; assist teacher preparation programs in the areas of identifying High Ability Learners and related instructional strategies; and, provide, high-quality professional development for all current Nebraska educators.

    On another topic, the Nebraska Language Arts Standards, the Board moved the public hearings to August and added additional time for public comment during the Board’s work session. At this point, about 290 responses have been gathered through a web-based survey that closed May 30th. We strongly encourage you to take time to review and comment on the proposed Language Arts Standards by going to: http://www.education.ne.gov/Standards/index.html.

    In other action, the State Board of Education voted to extend Data Recognition Corporation’s (DRC) contract for another year. DRC is the contractor responsible for the administration of Nebraska’s in writing, reading, math and science assessments. A committee made up of state board members and Nebraska Department of Education staff spent several months addressing technical problems that occurred earlier this year with the state writing, reading and math assessments. With input from NDE, school district representatives and assurances from DRC, the board thought it was appropriate to extend the contract for one year.

    Last month I mentioned that I would follow up with more information on accountability in June. Commissioner Matt Blomstedt will meet with U.S. Department of Education officials to discuss the state’s options under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s flexibility waiver requirements as well as a framework for the state to move forward. Our goal is for those discussions to provide more detailed information on the state’s accountability plan and the status of federal flexibility.

    Finally, the Board had its initial discussion on proposed changes in Rule 10, which guides the accreditation and school improvement processes for schools. Under the proposed Rule 10 changes, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation instruction would be required as part of the high school personal health curriculum and a state school security director would be appointed to provide leadership and support for safety and security in Nebraska’s public schools.

    On June 4th I had planned to attend the Nebraska Career Education Conference in Kearney. However, weather on June 3rd played a role in changing my driving plans.  For many of you readers, the June 3rd storms changed not only your plans for a day or two, but, your plans for the summer. My thoughts and prayers are with the many families in northeast Nebraska impacted by the storms on the 3rd and, for many, again on the 5th.