• Schopp named secretary of education
• Board approves standards for teaching
• What 2011 education bills mean for your district
• Deliver technology assessment before May 13

South Dakota Library Week
April 10-16, 2011

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Secretary's Column
By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education

Reauthorization: The push continues

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently was quoted in the news as saying that an estimated 82 percent of America's schools could fail to meet education goals set by No Child Left Behind this year. We know from experience here in South Dakota that as we draw closer to the 100 percent proficiency mark, it becomes increasingly difficult to make progress. And from the current school year until 2013-14, our AMO targets will go up each year.

Annual Measurable Objectives
School Year K-8 Reading K-8 Math 9-12 Reading 9-12 Math
2009-2010 69% 72% 62% 63%
2010-2011 76% 79% 71% 72%
2011-2012 84% 86% 80% 81%
2012-2013 92% 93% 90% 90%
2013-2014 100% 100% 100% 100%

Obviously, this is concerning to all of us in the education field. The labels that come along with the current system do nothing to enhance the education of students. Instead, we need more flexibility at the local and state levels to make decisions designed to address our unique situations. Hold us accountable Ö yes. But letís make sure the system is fair, that it allows for flexibility and that it keeps the best interests of our students at the forefront.

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. There is a strong desire on the part of CCSSO (of which South Dakota is a member), the U.S. Department of Education and others to see that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act be reauthorized before the start of school next fall.

While in D.C., I also had the opportunity to meet with our Congressional delegation regarding this issue. Gov. Daugaard has written to our representatives about reauthorization as well. All three members of South Dakotaís delegation are well aware of the issue and supportive of a prompt reauthorization. But as Congress continues to haggle over a budget, itís not clear when ESEA conversations will take center stage.

What is clear is this: If reauthorization does not occur in a timely manner, states will very likely begin to apply for waivers to create their own new accountability systems Ė systems that are less prescriptive, provide more flexibility, and better suit their unique needs.

In the months ahead, we need to be looking at a new model for accountability in South Dakota Ė one which recognizes that one answer does not fit all situations. Itís a process that will require the experience and expertise of many in the education field. As the department moves ahead with this work, we will be calling on many of you to help us craft a system that is fair, flexible and focuses on the needs of our students, teachers and schools.

The work needs to happen Ė whether reauthorization comes tomorrow or 12 months from now. We might as well dig in and get started!

On a final note, I wanted to thank those of you who participated in our online customer service survey. We gained some valuable feedback, which we will use to focus and improve our work in the months ahead.