T.F. Riggs High School Principal Kevin Mutchelknaus, Pierre, talks about his school’s experience with the National Career Readiness Certificate program.

Nov. 18-22 is American Education Week

American Education Week is a chance to celebrate public education! Thanks to all teachers, administrators, support staff and parents who play an essential role in educating our students.

2013 NAEP results announced

South Dakota’s fourth grade and eighth grade scores for math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have remained steady since the test was first administered in the state in 2002.

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Summary of spring 2014 testing released

A number of changes will occur in state testing this spring, pending federal approval of South Dakota’s application to not double test students and to hold accountability classifications steady for the 2014-15 school year.

Click here for a chart summarizing the spring 2014 testing plan.

Smarter Balanced
South Dakota is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which is creating new tests aligned to the Common Core standards in English-language arts and math. “South Dakota is one of several states that plan to test all students in grades 3-8 and 11 this spring using the new assessment, in order to meet our federal testing requirements,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp.

The test will be delivered online, and the testing window will open March 18 and end at the close of the school year.

“We know that there will be certain parameters regarding the timing of testing during that window, in order to ensure the validity of the field test and to manage technology infrastructure,” Schopp said. Those parameters will be announced in the next few months.

Besides the move to the Smarter Balanced assessment for all students in grades 3-8 and 11, the following assessment changes also will take place.

9th and 10th graders
A small group of 9th and 10th graders across the state will be selected to participate in the SBAC field test this spring. Testing of these grades is necessary for one year only, in order to provide information for standard setting and scale score development. Specifics regarding this requirement will be coming in the next few months.

Alternate Assessment
South Dakota is part of another consortium of states, the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), which is field testing an Alternate Assessment in English-language arts and math this spring, which will replace the Dakota STEP Alternate, or Dakota STEP-A, in these subject areas. The test is designed for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities.

South Dakota schools can volunteer to be a part of this pilot. Students who are selected to be part of the field test will take either the field test for English-language arts or the field test for math. The students will be required to take the Dakota STEP Alternate in the other subject area. In other words, students will be required to take both an ELA and a math test, but only one of the tests will be the field test.

The NCSC field test for math will occur in February and March 2014, and the NCSC field test for English language arts will occur in March and April 2014. Exact dates will be forthcoming. Schools will know prior to the Dakota STEP Alternate window of Feb. 3-March 14, which of their students are selected to participate in the Alternate Assessment field test, so that they can plan accordingly.

Science Assessment
There is no change to the state science assessment. Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will take the current Dakota STEP science assessment, in paper-and-pencil format, during the testing window of March 31-April 18.

The Dakota STEP Alternate science assessment will be given at the same time as the Dakota STEP Alternate for English-language arts and math, Feb. 3-March 14.

Testing at Hutterite Colony Schools
Districts with Hutterite Colony schools have been given the option to use either the Smarter Balanced assessment or the paper-and-pencil Dakota STEP for the 2014 testing window. This is the only instance in which the current assessment will be made available in paper-and-pencil format. In the future, a paper-and-pencil version of SBAC may be available.

The Department of Education has already been in contact with district superintendents that have colony schools, to identify which option each of their colony schools will use. Colony schools that have chosen the paper-pencil Dakota STEP option will have their student achievement results publicly reported as usual, if they meet the minimum N size of 10.

Public Reporting
While student achievement data on the field test assessments will not be reported for the 2013-14 school year, other required accountability information will still be reported, including test participation rates; attendance rates; high school completion rates; ACT data; information about Highly Qualified teachers and staffing data. Schools will still be expected to meet established targets in these areas.

Requirement to Notify Parents
As part of the double testing waiver requirement, schools are required to alert parents of the changes in testing for spring of 2014. Sample letters are available from the department.

The department will offer its annual assessment “road shows” in January and February at locations across the state. Testing coordinators are strongly encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact Jan Martin, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-3246.