Secretary Schopp sat down with School Administrators of South Dakota’s Rob Monson to talk about the department’s aspirations for the future.

2013 legislative session begins Tuesday
The 2013 Legislative Session gets underway on Jan. 8 with the Governor’s State of the State address beginning at 1 p.m. (Central). You can listen in via South Dakota Public Broadcasting. You can also follow any education-related bills by visiting the Legislative Research Council’s webpage.

Final public draft of Next Generation Science Standards to be released Jan. 8
A second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards is scheduled to be made available for comment on Tuesday, Jan. 8. South Dakota was one of 26 lead states involved in development of the standards. Click here for more information.

Farm to Schools grant winners announced
Congratulations to Flandreau Indian School on its successful Farm to Schools grant application. Flandreau received a planning grant for $39,463.

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Dakota STEP going online in spring 2014

Yes, you read that correctly! A year from now, in the spring of 2014, all South Dakota students who take the Dakota STEP assessment will be doing so online.

According to Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp, the decision to take the Dakota STEP online was not made lightly. “We believe it is critical to make this move prior to the 2014-15 school year, when we will have a brand new assessment aligned to the new Common Core standards, which will also be delivered online,” Schopp said. “This move will give students and teachers valuable experience with online assessment, and it will allow local school districts and the state the opportunity to test our technology infrastructures.”

In the coming weeks, the Department of Education will continue to send out updates related to the Dakota STEP. Site visits and webinars will be taking place to help school districts get ready for this change. Administrators should begin making sure they have enough machines to accommodate all students in the tested grades, and that those machines are capable and compatible to handle the testing format. Network strength and bandwidth will also need to be considered. Another round of the Technology Readiness Survey will begin in early March, so administrators can get a better idea of where their schools are at, at that time.

To help students and teachers get used to online testing, DOE continues to expand and improve upon the SD Assessment Portal, or SDAP. The department has been working diligently to align items currently in the portal to Common Core, and to expand the number of items available.

For more information, contact Gay Pickner at (605) 773-3247.