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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Smarter Balanced pilots to begin this spring

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is developing the new assessment aligned to the Common Core, has announced that it will be running an assessment pilot in spring 2013. The new assessment will be used statewide for the first time during the 2014-15 school year.

Smarter Balanced recently released its technology framework and system requirement specifications, including an online tool that allows administrators to check bandwidth and estimate the number of students who can test simultaneously. Click here to access the online tool; scroll down to the “Technology Requirements” subhead. Be aware: The bandwidth tool only works with certain Web browsers, and Internet Explorer is not one of them.

There will be two sections of the pilot: 1) for schools scientifically selected to participate, and 2) for schools that volunteer to participate. Ultimately, participation in either is voluntary. Superintendents or principals of schools that have been scientifically selected to participate should have received an email from Abby Javurek-Humig on Dec. 6.

Participating schools will not receive any testing data, and students will still have to take the Dakota STEP test. However, participation will provide many benefits as well. First and foremost, both students and teachers will gain experience with online testing, and will be exposed to the types of questions that will eventually comprise the Smarter Balanced assessment. Also, schools will be able to test the capabilities of their technology infrastructure, and administrators will have an idea of how to respond to any issues that arise before the testing is considered high-stakes.

Click here if you prefer to watch a video summary, or contact Gay Pickner at (605) 773-3247 with any questions you may have.