Secretary describes DOE’s focus on student outcomes
In presentations to the House and Senate Education Committees last month, Secretary of Education Melody Schopp outlined the department’s focus on student outcomes.
The department has identified four key student outcome goals that are vital for achieving the overall aspiration that all students should leave the K-12 system college, career and life ready. The student outcome goals are:
1.) All students will enter 4th grade proficient or advanced in reading.
2.) All students will enter 9th grade proficient or advanced in math.
3.) The gap for Native American students is eliminated.
4.) Students graduate high school ready for postsecondary or the workforce.
The four outcomes were identified using the latest research which shows that students who fall behind in key areas, even early on, are less likely to achieve success later in their academic careers or even in the workforce.
Outcome #1: 4th Grade Reading targets
Third grade marks a critical point in a child’s education. It’s the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Research tells us that students who don't read at grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than students who are proficient readers. Poverty only compounds the problem. Children who are not reading proficiently at 3rd grade and who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate than those who have never been poor.
Outcome #2: Math targets
A firm grasp of math is necessary throughout a student’s academic career, because concepts build upon one another and become increasingly complex. Research clearly indicates a correlation between taking higher-level math courses and success at the postsecondary level. One study found that students who had taken Algebra II in high school were twice as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as those who had not.
Outcome #3: Eliminating the gap
In South Dakota, there is a 28-point difference between how our Native American and white students perform on the National Assessment of Educational Progress – Reading at 4th grade. The gap widens to 29 points at 8th grade. Furthermore, students living in poverty are three times more likely to drop out of high school or fail to graduate on time. And students who are poor readers and live in poverty are the hardest hit; they are six times at a greater risk to drop out than their proficient counterparts.
Outcome #4: Graduation prep
Nationwide, surveys show that many high school graduates do not meet employers’ standards in a variety of academic areas, as well as in employability skills such as attendance, teamwork and collaboration, and work habits. In South Dakota, 28 percent of students who enter our public universities need to complete some sort of remedial work prior to taking college-level courses in English and math. State-level focus can connect the secondary school experience with postsecondary, both two-year and four-year institutions, as well as the world of work.