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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Secretary's Column
By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education

Spring 2014 marks big step in implementation of Common Core

Winter has not yet begun, but already I’m thinking about spring. As you know, the field test of the Smarter Balanced assessment will begin March 18, 2014.

You, your teachers and students have all been working hard, adjusting to the new Common Core standards in ELA and math. This spring will be the first time our students are assessed wholly on these new standards. It’s a critical step in this ongoing transition.

Everyone in the department’s Office of Assessment and Accountability is working hard to ensure this shift to a new test goes as smoothly as possible. We have been working closely with our colleagues in the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications to ensure that the technology infrastructure needed to deliver the new online assessment is in place and able to support the demand. Districts should also be assessing their local infrastructure to ensure smooth administration. So far, indications are positive that we are prepared in this area.

We are also working with the Smarter Balanced consortium on more specific details of test administration, consortium requirements for administration, and so forth. In order to ensure validity, there will be certain parameters that South Dakota will need to follow during the testing window. As those details are firmed up, we will share them with you as quickly as possible.

With all of the changes surrounding assessment this year, I highly encourage you to send your assessment coordinator, or some other representative, to the department’s testing “road shows” that will take place at various locations across the state in January and February.

Finally, as you visit with parents about the move to a new assessment, it’s important to reassure them. Any time we move to new standards and a new assessment, we need to establish a new baseline. It is not fair or valid to compare performance on the Dakota STEP to performance on the Smarter Balanced assessment. Our expectation is that proficiency under the SBAC will look different than it did with the Dakota STEP, and we need to lay out that expectation for parents.

Preparing our students for success in the 21st century will not happen quickly, but we are setting them on the right path. I know South Dakota students will rise to the challenge.