VIDEO: Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Education Secretary discuss education reform package on SDPB’s “Focus”.

Check out the Department of Education’s new YouTube Channel, and find several videos explaining the details of HB1234.

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

Ensuring South Dakota students are college and career ready

In the education world, buzz words come and go. One of the latest terms is “college and career readiness.” It’s a concept with real staying power. It’s the ultimate reason we all do what we do: To ensure that the young people who leave our buildings have the knowledge base and skills to be successful in postsecondary education, careers and life.

In this issue of Ed Online, there’s an article about the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate and a pilot program being offered to high schools in 2012-13. The NCRC credential certifies that an individual has essential skills needed for workplace success. To earn certification, individuals must attain at least the lowest certification level on three WorkKeys assessments: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information.

While the state Department of Labor and Regulation has been using NCRC with its adult job seekers, this pilot represents the first time that high school students have the opportunity to access these tools. DLR has also been working with South Dakota employers to build awareness regarding the relevance of the certificate.

Unlike traditional college entrance exams, the WorkKeys assessments provide a measurement of workplace skills, including what ACT calls “soft” skills such as communication, and can be a very practical tool when working with students – particularly those who may not be going on to a four-year program.

I encourage you to take a look at this pilot and consider being a part of it and finding out how your students rate in terms of their workplace skills.

Also on the college and career readiness front, the Department of Education and Board of Regents are teaming up to develop a safety net of sorts for high school juniors who may be at risk of not making a successful transition to postsecondary education.

Working collaboratively, DOE and BOR will identify students whose junior-year ACT scores indicate that they will require remediation upon entering the state’s university system. Beginning this fall, these students and their parents will receive a letter from the state encouraging the students to be proactive and address the issue before leaving high school, in order to avoid remediation and the associated costs at the college level.

While the details are still being ironed out, our plan is to present several options to these students. One of the options would be to point students to the South Dakota Virtual School, where a remediation program designed to assist students in increasing their skill set in English and/or math would be set up. Students using the program would engage in a diagnostic exam to determine where their needs lie and participate in appropriate modules in English and math. Once completed successfully, this work would be recognized by the BOR as properly preparing students for direct entry into college-level courses.

Of course, we will recommend that students and parents visit with their school counselor and or administrator to help them decipher what the academic issues are and where it’s best for the student to invest time and energy.

In this way, we hope to shore up students’ skills prior to leaving high school and prevent them from having to do time-consuming and costly remediation once they get to college.