30 S.D. schools will share ‘Rethink K-12’ grant

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Money

This story was further updated Tuesday afternoon.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State Education Secretary Ben Jones said Monday that South Dakota will get a nearly $7 million federal grant in a national competition.

The ‘Rethink K-12 Education Models’ funds went to 11 of the 39 states that applied.

A copy of South Dakota’s application, as well as those made by other states, is available here.

Iowa also received one of the grants.

The money was part of the CARES Act that Congress approved to help battle COVID-19. The ‘Rethink K-12’ program is intended to run three years.

Jones said South Dakota’s money would be shared among 30 schools to develop courses where students can learn at their own pace. This is known as competency-based or personalized learning.

The schools haven’t been chosen yet, a department spokeswoman, Ruth Raveling, said Tuesday morning.

South Dakota schools that were already using it seemed to better keep students engaged when in-person classrooms closed in South Dakota last spring because of COVID-19, according to Jones.

According to the state’s plan, the grant covers 3 years of training and content development. Year 1 calls for identifying the 30 schools and at least one teacher per school for certification in on-line instruction.

Year 2 calls for those 30 to help coach 1,000 colleagues in remote learning, while 115 college teachers-to-be would receive training. A bank of material for parents also would be developed.

Year 3 would see 60 teachers complete a 9-credit graduate certificate program and another 115 college teachers-to-be trained.

A total of 1,660 teachers would work with an estimated 32,000 students in delivering remote learning options.

“Through the Rethinking Education Colloquium, teams of 6-7 teachers, staff, and parents at 30 schools will receive multiple workshops per year in remote and hybrid learning with an emphasis on personalized and competency-based education. At a cost of approximately $33,000 per school, these individuals will have an opportunity to design and deliver new learning approaches based on competency-based instruction,” South Dakota’s application said.

The state Department of Education would work with the Teaching and Innovation in Education organization, the Statewide Family Engagement Center and South Dakota State University on the project.

“While offering resources to all families, SFEC has a prime emphasis on the state’s lowest
performing schools as well as minority students, students with disabilities, English Language
Learners and migrant students,” the application said. “SFEC has learned to develop messaging for specific audiences including Native American families, families of English Language Learners, rural families, and families with disabled children. This experience will be invaluable in meeting the parent goals of the project.”

An outside vendor would be hired to develop a learning-management system for teachers to use.

The state’s plan calls for development of four instructional courses for teachers:

— Developing innovative and engaging learning for a hybrid instructional model;

— Competency-based learning and assessment;

— Whole child curriculum development and implementation; and

— Community-specific problem-based learning, including focus on family needs.

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