3 Big Things:
Improve student achievement, college and career readiness

Want to raise reading scores? Improve student writing? Engage students in meaningful career planning? Three department-sponsored initiatives can help you get there.

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3 Big Things:
Improve student achievement, college and career readiness

Want to raise reading scores? Improve student writing? Engage students in meaningful career planning? Three department-sponsored initiatives can help you get there. Check out “3 Big Things” you won’t want to miss for the 2010-11 school year.

(2) WriteToLearn
(3) MyFuture MyPrize
    Claim it @ SDMyLife


READING Up is a statewide professional development initiative that takes aim at student performance on specific English language arts content standards. Using Dakota STEP data, the Department of Education has identified the two standards at each grade level with which students struggle the most.

Through this targeted professional development, participating teachers will zero in on the targeted standards – revising lesson plans and student assignments, and teaching to a deeper level of understanding.

Bottom line, this initiative has the potential to raise reading scores on the Dakota STEP.

Why do we need it?
While high, South Dakota’s reading scores on the Dakota STEP have remained fairly steady for the past five years. They actually dropped in 2009, due to the introduction of revised standards. Another indicator, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, shows that other states are making more progress in reading at the 4th-grade level than South Dakota.

To learn more
Visit http://doe.sd.gov/readingup/
NOTE: Dates and locations of workshops will be available soon.


WriteToLearn is an online student literacy program and assessment designed to build writing skills and develop reading comprehension. The technology built into WriteToLearn instantly assesses student work and provides students and teachers with immediate feedback on writing submissions.

The assessment will be administered throughout the school year during three separate testing windows. Students are required to submit one essay response during each of the testing windows.

Testing window dates:
Fall: Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2010
Winter: Dec. 1, 2010-Feb. 28, 2011
March: March 1-May 31, 2011

The department is hosting training sessions for testing coordinators, account administrators and teachers. Check out the schedule on the website noted below.

Why do we need it?
State law requires that 5th, 7th and 10th grade students are tested on their writing skills. Feedback from the field indicated that the previously administered summative writing assessment was not effective. In the spring of 2010, the department initiated the WriteToLearn pilot program. Thanks to the successful pilot, the department will implement WriteToLearn statewide during the 2010-11 school year.

To learn more

MyFuture MyPrize
Claim it @ SDMyLife.com

For several years, the department has provided schools with a free, online academic and career planning system to use with students. It’s called SDMyLife, and it’s located at www.sdmylife.com. This year, the website has a brand new portal featuring resources specific to South Dakota students.

To get more students using SDMyLife, the department is planning an online contest to drive traffic to the website. High school students who visit SDMyLife.com from Sept. 27 to Nov. 15 can register to win technology related prizes such as laptops, printers and e-readers. (Thanks to HP for its donation to this effort.)

What does this have to do with your school?
At the local level, schools can use this opportunity – when hundreds of students are accessing the main SDMyLife portal – to get students to log into the system and engage in meaningful career planning activities.

Your district’s role is critical in this process, as the local school district is responsible for assigning log-ins and passwords for students interested in using the SDMyLife system.

How will students learn about the contest?
A few weeks before the contest begins, the department will provide high school counselors with packets of information to promote the initiative to students. Each public high school will receive a kit filled with posters, flyers, “freebies” for students, and other materials you can use to get the word out.

Where do we get more information?
School counselors should watch the K-12 Data Center’s SD Counselors Listserv for frequent messages regarding contest details.

High school principals and superintendents will receive similar announcements via e-mail and the Education Online.

To learn more
Contact Tiffany Sanderson, Department of Education, (605) 773-4747.

This initiative is made possible with the support of the South Dakota Department of Labor.