Education in the First State
February 22, 2017
Final draft of ESSA plan to be released next week

Parents, educators and other stakeholders joined a series of community conversations this fall to provide input on the state's Every Student Succeeds Act plan.
The final draft of Delaware's Every Student Succeeds Act plan will be released Feb. 28.

The Delaware Department of Education released the  second draft of the state's federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan on Jan. 9. Updates to sections  1 and  4 (long-term goals and accountability/support/improvement for schools were released Jan. 31 with changes highlighted.

The second draft reflected the input the department received from community members and other education stakeholders at a series of community conversations and through   discussion groups, the Governor's ESSA Advisory Committee, online surveys and submitted written comments.

The department also released a  framework document that provided context around the department's related work and  narrated slides that gave an overview of the changes between the Jan. 9 draft and the Oct. 31 version.

The department spent the next month collecting input on the second draft through the Governor's ESSA Advisory Committee, discussion groups, stakeholder meetings and online public comments. Staff members are working now to incorporate this feedback into the final draft of the plan, which will be released Feb. 28 on the department's  ESSA website.
The final plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in April.
Teacher leaders support colleagues in pilot program

English teacher Debbie Caltuna was part of a group of more than a dozen new teachers to arrive at fast-growing Appoquinimink High School this fall. Caltuna meets on a regular basis with teacher leader Dr. John Tanner. Their discussions include a wide range of topics, everything from lesson planning to classroom management, goal setting, engagement strategies and more.

During John Tanner's first year of teaching, an administrator visited his classroom twice - and one of those times was an announced observation.

"That's not enough feedback when there is so much nuance to doing this job well," said Tanner, now a 16-year classroom veteran who provides Appoquinimink High School's novice teachers with on-going coaching and support as one of the school's three teacher leaders. "Teachers need frequent and specific, sometimes in-the-moment feedback, something much more targeted and responsive than traditional feedback models are able to provide."

This fall the state launched a teacher-leader pilot that provides educators the opportunity to support other teachers without leaving the classroom. Their days are split between leading their own classrooms and providing instructional support to their colleagues. Midway through the first school year, the teacher leaders gathered in January to share their successes and challenges to date and learn from one another.

Having the opportunity for teacher leaders to hear from one another is a key element of the state's strategy during this pilot year.  Districts and charters submitted plans for how they wanted to leverage the teacher leader roles within their school.  Currently, each of these roles is being implemented a bit differently across all eight schools that are in the pilot. 

"Through these 'share-outs,' we can learn from one another about what has worked and what strategies have been implemented to address challenges that have come up thus far. In addition to sharing success stories, the teacher leaders were engaged in professional learning sessions focused on developing and delivering high-quality support for their colleagues," said Jon Neubauer, the education associate leading the program for the state.

App tells students, families 'Where's the bus?'

Families can track where their children's school bus is thanks to a new app being piloted in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.
Imagine waiting for your child to return home from school and being able to open an application on your phone that pinpoints exactly where their bus is and when it will arrive at their assigned stop.

Red Clay Consolidated School District is piloting a new GPS application - which will be offered to all families - and will allow you to do just that. The application is called WheresTheBus
TM and .lets you know precisely when your child's bus will arrive at your bus stop.

Red Clay buses are outfitted with the GPS devices and the transportation department, along with schools, have been making use of the new system.

Transportation Manager Kelly Shahan said the new system is already proving beneficial to her department and schools. No longer does someone from transportation have to call drivers on their radios to learn where they are.They can simply check a screen.

The district plans to make everyone aware of the new program in a letter to be sent to homes shortly. The intent is to have the districtwide system up and running by late February.
More students getting free, personalized SAT help

Delmar High School students are taking advantage of free, personalized SAT help by linking their College Board accounts to Khan Academy.
Since taking the PSAT last year, nearly 90 percent of Delmar High School's Class of 2018 members have linked their College Board accounts to the Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy -a free, online SAT preparation program available at that uses student PSAT scores to personalize study materials.

To achieve this high rate of participation, Delmar's school counselors meet with every student in every grade to ensure students understand the benefits of linking their College Board and Khan Academy accounts. Counselors hold dedicated sessions to guide students through the process of creating and linking accounts. Additionally, Delmar's math and English classes utilize Khan Academy practice as part of their class work.

"It is made very clear to students that linking their College Board and Khan Academy accounts provides them access to individualized SAT practice they may otherwise not get," said Lisa Morris, Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for Delmar Middle and Senior high schools. "Students are practicing exactly the areas in which they struggle to help them find a more successful outcome."

Khan Academy is available to all Delaware students and schools as they gear up for Delaware's School Day SAT on April 5.
Teacher Spotlight

North Dover educator makes history come alive   

Students research historical figures from the Revolutionary War for their technology presentations.

Editor's Note: This guest piece is by Lena Hall, fourth grade teacher at North Dover Elementary in the Capital School District.
A few years ago, my school was fortunate enough to receive funding for four iPads per classroom teacher. We were all excited to receive this new technology however most teachers were unsure how to incorporate the iPads into meaningful lessons and standard-based activities. The staff strived to find resources and activities that would truly enrich the students' learning and not just use technology for the sake of using technology.
In my classroom, I started using the iPads to allow students to tap into their creativity and use their imaginations to show what they have learned in new and exciting ways. I took several trainings and researched the process called App-Smashing. App-Smashing is the process of using multiple iPad applications to create a single project. I loved the idea that my students could use multiple apps and combine them together into one final presentation. For me, the best part was that not only was App-Smashing fun and engaging for the students, but it was not a time-consuming process. 

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