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Letter from the Secretary

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SD Department of Education December 2014  
  Letter from the Secretary

We are gearing up for the 2015 legislative session. In his recent budget address for FY 16, Gov. Daugaard proposed a 2 percent increase in state aid to K-12 education.

In addition to education funding, we expect assessment to be a hot topic again this year. Misunderstanding persists surrounding the new standards in ELA and math, and the Smarter Balanced assessment, and some legislators may again seek to provide an avenue for parents to opt students out of the test. If such legislation is proposed, we will stand firmly against it.

As we all know, student proficiency on the new statewide assessment is likely to look different than in the past. It is of the utmost importance to communicate with parents this is expected and normal. We are testing students on more rigorous standards, and it will take them time to adjust to higher expectations.

The Smarter Balanced assessment will also provide a more meaningful picture of what students know and can do by asking them to do much more than fill in bubbles. ELA portions of the test require students to not only read, but to write, speak, listen and research. Math portions cover concepts and procedures, problem solving, modeling/data analysis, and require students to communicate their reasoning.

Does that sound more difficult than the previous statewide assessment? Yes. But do those tested skills also sound like ones students will need to thrive in the post-secondary world and careers? Absolutely. And that’s what matters most.

Certainly, the conversation about teacher shortages and teacher pay will loom large in the discussions as well. We will try to keep you updated as the session progresses.

Best wishes for a peaceful holiday season!

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