About David Hefley

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far David Hefley has created 11 blog entries.

Making sure a page is safe to delete.

Before a page is submitted to delete, it is important to first verify that site links to that page, and it’s files, are resolved first.  In order to help facilitate this process, a new analysis  tool was created.  To use this tool:

1.) Log in to WordPress as normal (https://www.education.ne.gov/login)

2.) Click On Pages (which is the same as All Pages):

3.) Move your mouse over the page you want to analyze and click the Analyze link:

It may take some time to do a full analysis on the page, and then the results are presented underneath the quick link area:

 


Analysis details:

In Page(s) – A link to THIS PAGE was found directly within the content of listed page (i.e. not in a navigation link on the left)

In Menu(s) – A link to THIS PAGE was found in a navigation menu.

Attachments In Page:  Media files (PDF’s, Word Documents, Images, etc) uploaded to THIS PAGE.
    PAGE:  – there is a link to this file in listed page’s content (i.e. not in a navigation link)
    MENU: – the listed menu contains a link to this file.

NOT ALL CATEGORIES MAY BE PRESENT. 

Making sure a page is safe to delete. 2017-11-08T17:55:03+00:00

Checking Usage of a Media File

Sometimes it is helpful before submitting a Page Deletion Request to find out 1.) What media files (pdf/word/etc) are associated with that page, and 2.) Who else across the site links to those particular files.  This technique will also be helpful when updating the name of a file to see which other pages will also need to be updated.  REMEMBER: if your filename does not change, your links should still work OK without any changes.

Method 1 – The easiest for just checking a single file:

1.) Log in to WordPress as normal (http://www.education.ne.gov/login)

2.) Click on the Media menu item:

 

3.) Find your file by using any available filter.  You will also want to make sure you are in DETAIL view (not grid view).  The arrow below points to the DETAIL view selector button. 

 

4.) If you have permissions to manage this file, when you hover over the file, you will see a new Usage link.  Click on this to run an analysis of that file, and what pages link to it:

 

5.) You can click on the name of the page to view it, or the edit link to start the revision process (if you have edit permissions).  Once your mouse leaves that row, the list will temporarily hide until you move your mouse back over that row: 

Method 2 – The easiest for just checking a single file while editing a page:

1.) Click on Add Media button at the top of your editor screen:

 

2.) Make sure you are on Media Library tab and then use the filters to find your file:

 

3.) Click on the file to view the Attachment Details pane on the right, then click on the Usage link to run the analysis.

 

4.) A linked list of pages is presented when the analysis is complete:


Analysis details:

In Page(s) – A link to THIS PAGE was found directly within the content of listed page (i.e. not in a navigation link on the left)

In Menu(s) – A link to THIS PAGE was found in a navigation menu.

NOT ALL CATEGORIES MAY BE PRESENT. 

Checking Usage of a Media File 2017-11-08T17:55:02+00:00

Finding Your Files

You can now find your files faster than ever!  If you are using the Media main menu entry, you will now see a new filter option for “Uploaded by:” – you can select either Anyone (to see all files), or just “me” to show only files YOU have directly uploaded.  Remember, the vast majority of files were uploaded during migration, so even though you see them and have access, they weren’t necessarily uploaded by you:

 

If you are viewing your library while editing a page, you can achieve the same thing by selecting “Uploaded by me” from the first drop down in the filter:

Finding Your Files 2017-11-08T17:55:02+00:00

#MaterialsMatter

Over the past year, I’ve noticed the hashtag “#materialsmatter” appearing in my Twitter feed more frequently.  EdReports, a nonprofit offering free reviews of K-12 instructional materials, promotes the hashtag as a reminder that instructional materials play an important role in student learning.  For me, the hashtag offers a simple, yet bold, statement highlighting the impact standards-aligned, high-quality instructional materials have on student learning and achievement.

The idea that when students learn from standards-aligned, high-quality instructional materials isn’t new or novel.  It’s almost too simple, right?  Even so, most state educational agencies (including NDE) have focused primarily on the development of and assessment of content area standards.  Limited attention or guidance has been placed on the instructional materials (e.g. curriculum, core programs, etc.) used to develop and facilitate standards-aligned instruction.  As a result, we have little information about which curricula are most commonly used in Nebraska and which of those resources are most effective in helping students learn the content within our state standards.  Nationally, that trend is similar.  Independent reviews and review tools like EdReports, the EQuIP rubric, or the IMET tool, illustrate a lack of standards-aligned, high-quality instructional materials available and utilized nationwide (Chiefs for Change, 2017).

To me, that’s a problem.

First, and most importantly, this is an equity issue.  We have a responsibility to ensure that all students have equitable access to the education necessary to achieve their full potential.  A key aspect of this is that all students receive strong, standards-aligned instruction.  Schmidt et al. (2015) found that low-income students are less likely to have access to high-quality content or textbooks in the classroom than students in higher income communities.  This inequity, in part, accounts for the significant achievement gap between these students and their more affluent peers.

Additionally, when students receive instruction from materials not aligned to state standards, the opportunity to learn decreases.  For example, middle school students using high-quality instructional materials receive the equivalent of an additional eight months of learning versus students using low-quality materials.  Furthermore, when high-quality materials were combined with professional development, students gained four months of learning over two years versus comparison groups (Taylor et al., 2015).  This research supports the claim that high-quality instructional materials create additional opportunities for students to learn.

The Nebraska State Board of Education approves standards for all content area.  These standards reflect what students should know and be able to do within all content areas.  Additionally, NDE is committed to building an assessment system that includes resources designed to assess all content area standards.  We have solid processes in place to develop and assess content area standards, but that’s not enough.  It is important that NDE provides leadership and support to ensure that teachers are equipped with high-quality instructional materials aligned to the state standards and that teachers receive professional development to effectively implement these materials.

But, how will we get there?

I am excited to share that Nebraska is one of seven states selected to participate in the “Instructional Materials-Professional Development Network” facilitated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The goal of this two-year network is to increase the percent of districts in which new instructional material adoptions and procurements are high-quality and aligned to the state’s standards.  Our work is framed around four questions:

  1. What are the most commonly used instructional resources (curricula, core programs, etc.) that Nebraska schools utilize?
  2. What is the alignment of those instructional resources to Nebraska’s content area standards?
  3. Do all students have an opportunity to learn from high-quality instructional resources?
  4. How can NDE help districts identify high-quality, standards-aligned instructional resources?

To accomplish this work, NDE will work with the ESUs to begin identifying the instructional materials most commonly used by Nebraska schools and develop the criteria/process for determining quality and alignment.  Through this work, we hope to increase use of instructional materials aligned to our state standards and increase the percentage of teachers receiving professional development on the use of standards-aligned curricular materials.

It seems like a daunting task and NDE is headed down a path we have never gone before.  Even so, when I describe this work to others, I’m convinced that this work has the potential to be a game changer for our schools and districts.  In a July blog, EdReports summed it up:

In the end, when districts choose strong curriculum it means that teachers are supported and can spend newfound time on deepening and differentiating learning rather than scouring the internet for quality materials. And most of all, it means that all students have access to the content they need to be ready for college and careers.

Well said, my friends.  Well said.

 

References:

Chiefs for Change. (2017). Hiding in plain sight: Leveraging curriculum to improve student learning (Policy Brief). Retrieved from http://chiefsforchange.org/policy-papers/.

Schmidt, W., Burroughs, N., Zoido, P., & Houang, R. (2015). The Role of Schooling in Perpetuating Educational Inequality: An International Perspective. Educational Researcher, 44 (7).

Taylor, J., Getty, S., Kowalski, S., Wilson, C., Carlson, J., & Van Scotter, P. (2015). An efficacy trial of research-based curriculum materials with curriculum-based professional development. American Educational Research Journal, 52 (5).

#MaterialsMatter 2017-11-22T10:13:40+00:00

Nebraska VR Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Every October begins National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in recognition and celebration of the contributions of workers with disabilities and the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. Nebraska VR (Vocational Rehabilitation) includes Disability Determinations, Assistive Technology Partnership, and the Client Assistance Program. The programs under Nebraska VR are comprised of over 300 staff at offices across the state (about 3/5 of the Nebraska Department of Education).

Even though we’ve been around for almost 100 years, many still question who are we, what do we do, and why are we in NDE?

Nationally, the program began in 1920 as a way to address the needs of veterans returning home after World War I. Nebraska’s VR program started a year later in 1921. Over the years, the program evolved into one helping individuals with disabilities of all kinds to prepare for, find, and keep jobs. Recent changes created an emphasis on also helping businesses recruit, train, and retain employees with disabilities. VR has a great degree of flexibility in the kind of services that can be provided as they are based on the individualized needs of the person with a disability. Typical supports include assistive technology, computers, hearing aids, job coaching, job readiness and skill building training, post-secondary training and education, self-employment, tools, uniforms, and vehicle and worksite modifications. As part of a broader workforce system, we provide the necessary support to help the individual achieve their career goal.

So why are we in NDE? In other states, the VR program is under Labor, HHS or is a stand-alone agency. In Nebraska, perhaps due to being in NDE, there has been an emphasis on working with students with disabilities for many years. In fact, about 35% of the 7,000 individuals served each year are students with disabilities. Our collaboration with schools in the provision of transition services benefits students with disabilities as they move from school to work or to post-secondary education and training. An individualized plan with transition services is designed to: a) assist the student and his or her family to think about goals for life after high school and to develop a plan to get there; b) design the high school experience to ensure that the student gains the skills needed to achieve his or her desired goals for life after high school; and c) identify and link the student and family to any needed services, supports or programs before the student leaves the school system.

In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) mandated a set aside of VR funds for pre-employment transition services for students with disabilities strengthening the requirement for collaboration between VR and schools. Working with schools, we are responsible to ensure students have access to and are provided:

  • Job Exploration Counseling;
  • Workplace Readiness Training;
  • Work-Based Learning Experiences;
  • Counseling on Comprehensive Transition or Post-Secondary Educational Programs; and
  • Instruction in Self-Advocacy.

Our efforts to provide pre-employment transition services has required the development of relationships with every school district in Nebraska. In the last two years, VR has provided financial support to schools, ESUs, and other public and private entities, for the development of innovative short-term programs to provide career exploration, job readiness, and work based learning opportunities for students with disabilities. This past summer, twenty programs across the state, from Omaha to Scottsbluff, were developed.

Other partnerships with Special Education and schools, include the Nebraska Youth Leadership Council (youth with disabilities promoting disability awareness and educating their peers about transition to college and work) and Project Search (a business-led school-to-work program). You can learn more about these initiatives at our website: http://www.vr.nebraska.gov.

By sharing VR’s focus on students with disabilities I hope to grow an understanding of the significance of VR being in the Department of Education. It is not just a matter of convenience but a relationship offering mutual benefits to the achievement of NDE’s mission “to lead and support the preparation of ALL Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.”

Nebraska VR Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017-11-22T10:13:33+00:00

Creating non-clickable menu placeholders

Lets say you want to create a grouping of menu items, but don’t want the parent to be clickable (a placeholder to indicate what the following nested items will be).  For example:

In this example, School Health Index, Youth Surveys, and Data & Statistics are there as placeholders, but cannot be clicked.  To achieve this same thing in your menu, do the following:

  1. Log in to your site account.
  2. In the left-hand (black) Admin Menu area, mouse over Appearance, and then select Menus
  3. If necessary, use the drop-down to choose the menu you want
  4. Expand Custom Links and use a # for the URL, and whatever text you want for the placeholder:
  5. Click on Add to Menu
  6. Drag it into the proper place and add/move items under it so they are slightly indented:
  7. Click on Save Menu, and you are finished!

 

 

Creating non-clickable menu placeholders 2017-10-05T16:42:11+00:00

The Role of Chief of Staff

Throughout my time with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), many people have asked me, “What do you do at NDE?” I have frequently answered, “everything the Commissioner of Education tells me to do.” However, I want to take this opportunity to be more transparent in what my duties are as the Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Staff for NDE.

One of my primary duties is to lead and direct governmental relations for NDE at federal, state, and local levels. The “unique good life” of our state is reflected by the great people of Nebraska who value education to the extent that an entire Article of the Nebraska Constitution is devoted exclusively to the subject. We have a duty to “provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years of age.” NDE was created by the people of Nebraska to be responsible for the general supervision and administration of the school system in the state. When reading the entire Constitution of Nebraska, one can find that NDE and the Nebraska Legislature have a unique partnership that the people of Nebraska expect will work together to ensure that the school system prepares all students for learning, earning, and living.

This year Nebraska is celebrating its Sesquicentennial but the uniqueness of the Nebraska Unicameral is not yet 100 years of age. The Unicameral was created in 1937.  For most of its history senators served until they were defeated by an opponent or retired from the senate. In 2006, the people of Nebraska chose to provide term limits for senators, thereby presenting unique experiences every two years. In the past it was easy for citizens to rely on a senator to be an expert in a subject area and to serve for 12 to 20 years in the Unicameral.  Today, senators can only serve two consecutive four-year terms before they are “term limited.” This can make it challenging to find a senator who fully grasps all of the underlying principles that drove the adoption of state laws that impact education every day. That is where my role comes in: to help those senators understand how NDE supports the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.

How do I carry out my duty to lead and direct governmental relations of NDE in coordination with the Nebraska Legislature?  The first thing that I do is build relationships with policy makers in the Legislature to learn what they need to know about the school system of this state and how NDE goes about providing the general supervision and administration of that school system, including the work NDE staff do each and every day. The latter presents ongoing opportunities for me to learn what is going on throughout the entire NDE agency in order to be able to coherently explain the work, but also the underlying strategies that drive the work of NDE to policy makers in the Legislature.

So how do I accomplish that?  You will have to wait for my next blog that is scheduled for January 2018.  Happy New Year!

The Role of Chief of Staff 2017-11-22T10:13:24+00:00

The Role of Information in Education

In the late fall of 2016, the Commissioner of Education officially created a Chief Information Officer (CIO) role within the Nebraska Department of Education. The purposes were to 1) create a presence within the Commissioner’s office that ensured technology, data, and communication systems were part of the strategy, planning, policy discussions and ultimate execution of tasks. 2) Coordinate with the processes of working to implement efficiencies, modernization, and alignment of internal operations including aligning support systems for Nebraska schools.

As part of this new NDE division, the priority focuses of alignment include information technology, data collection and use, research and evaluation, project management, communication as well as a deeper focus on digital learning. As one might suspect, implementing alignment and changes, integrating Board and Commissioner priorities, evaluating internal and external processes and systems, evaluating future options and approaches, all while staff are working to maintain current work expectations is challenging to say the least. However, the solutions-focused attitude, innovative approaches, a willingness to adapt and consider the future by our staff all in support of the State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan and Vision has been impressive.

In the coming weeks, I am excited to share insights to work happening in a variety of areas. These include progress updates on Future Ready Nebraska, exploring the transformation is a data collection and use systems known as ADVISER, insights to the Nebraska Education Profile (NEP), some insights of technology changes and training supports, a perspective from the view of the Project Management Office for NDE, opportunities to discuss the use of open education resources by educators in support of digital learning, along with insights to education Innovation occurring within Nebraska schools. These specific initiatives are in addition to the terrific efforts of our NDE communications team.

The Role of Information in Education 2017-11-22T10:05:02+00:00
Go to Top