By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education
Governorís budget supports department focus on student outcomes
The governor presented his proposed budget for FY 14 earlier this week. We are pleased that so many of the education-related budget items support the departmentís aim to focus the education conversation on student outcomes, with the ultimate aspiration that all students will be college, career and life ready.
Moving forward, the department plans to focus very clearly on ensuring that students are on track in their learning progressions to graduate high school ready for the next step, be that continued education, careers or the military. The effort to address remediation at the high school level, prior to a student entering postsecondary, is one way we can keep a particular group of struggling students on track. In addition, we will be looking to expand the Jobs for Americaís Graduates program in the state; this is another way we can assist a specific group of students who are at risk of dropping out and keeping them on a proven path to graduation and postsecondary options. Funding for Advanced Placement courses offered via the South Dakota Virtual School will keep another group of students engaged and fully prepared for their postsecondary experiences. And, finally, funding for the National Career Readiness Certificate program provides that career readiness piece that we have been lacking thus far.
While we have a clear picture of efforts at the high school level, the department also plans to focus our efforts on the other end of the spectrum: the early grades. Students need to be proficient in reading and math early on, if they are to stay on track for high school graduation. At the present time, we are delving into our data and looking at best practices to determine how best to target our resources to this end.
Across the spectrum, the department will support teachers and leaders through training designed to help them to grow as professionals, and to give them the tools and experience they need to be effective facilitators of the educational process.
So, while the 2013 legislative session has not yet begun, we are hopeful that the education conversations this year will center around specific student outcomes and ensuring that all South Dakota students leave our K-12 schools prepared for that next step!