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When it Rains, it Pours!


Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education (May, 2016)

As I am writing this article, I am looking out the window at the rain—again! Downpour is a good analogy for how I felt about the workload this past month with the State Board of Education! It was difficult to trim down a summary of the workload to just a page—so this month there are three major topics that I would like to touch base on. All three of these topics are important to the State Board of Education, to our schools and to ensure continued high-quality public education in Nebraska!

First, I want to touch base on standards, again! A review of the academic standards in science is now underway at the Nebraska Department of Education. As stated in previous articles, the primary authors of Nebraska standards are Nebraska teachers—elementary teachers, secondary teachers and faculty from community colleges, state colleges and universities. Nebraska’s standards development process includes a review of standards from other states and national standards before identifying broad standards, grade level standards and curricular indicators. Local school districts are responsible for developing their local curriculum based on state standards and for adopting appropriate instructional materials. The first step of the process started with a comparison of current Nebraska science standards with national standards including as the Next Generation Science Standards. This analysis provides the teacher-led writing team with good reference information as they start with the process for Nebraska. As a part of the standards update, a State Board committee participated in a science experiment. Needless to say, we did not blow up the Nebraska State Office Building!

Second topic: Nebraska State Assessments (NeSA), the statewide tests that look at student progress in writing, reading, math and science. As stated in previous articles, Nebraska had technical difficulties this year with just online writing. With changes in federal and state law and given the technical issues in writing, the State Board in June will recommend some changes for assessment in the 2016/2017 school year. The vision for assessment in 2017 and beyond will be designed with input from many stakeholders across the state. The vision will also incorporate the proposed changes in assessment at the federal level and the catalysts at the state level. One state level catalyst for change was the passage of LB 930, which requires schools to use a college entrance exam in lieu of state tests at 11th grade. In June, I will spend more time on the proposed assessment changes.

The third topic: strategic planning. In May, the State Board moved forward, spending time on a draft of the preliminary goals for the strategic plan. This plan will help guide the work of the State Board and the Nebraska Department of Education. During the May meeting, the State Board received an in-depth overview on federal changes. Elements of the new federal law—Every Student Succeeds Act—will be incorporated into the strategic plan. The new federal law is expected to place most of the responsibilities back into the hands of states and local schools districts. The federal changes will be aligned with our new strategic plan to provide direction for education in Nebraska. After reaching out for additional input on our goals, the focus will turn to setting specific measureable sub goals, targets and an implementation plan. I will write more about this topic in August.

This article represents my personal view, not that of the State Board of Education or my role as president. Feel free to contact me at rachel.wise@nebraska.gov. Search the Nebraska Department of Education website at http://www.education.ne.gov to learn more about education in our state.

 

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About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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