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


The Department of Education is driven by four primary goals:

1) Students enter 4th grade proficient or advanced in reading.
2) Students enter 9th grade proficient or advanced in math.
3) Increase the academic success of Native American students.
4) Students graduate high school ready for postsecondary and the workforce.

This fall will mark the beginning of important work focused on the two goals relating to reading and math proficiency. To acquire these skills, students need strong foundational supports:

1) High-quality standards and instruction and
2) Effective teachers and leaders

In order to bolster those supports, the department is offering select schools access to instructional coaches in the 2014-15 school year. Reading coaches will assist K-3 teachers, and math coaches will work with educators in grades 4-8. Schools were selected based on proficiency rates on the Dakota STEP.

Participating schools will need to implement benchmark assessments in the content area. Coaching will focus on foundational skills and the use of data from those benchmark assessments.

Through one-on-one coaching, for example, reading teachers will get support in embedding phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension into their core instruction. Math coaches will help teachers incorporate the Common Core shifts in math standards and the four math claims developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

At least once a month, teachers will have the opportunity to collaborate with coaches, receiving immediate feedback on their teaching and assistance in analyzing data and student evidence to determine next steps.

South Dakota has adopted new, high-quality standards, but they’re no more than words on paper if teachers aren’t fully prepared to implement them. This is a tremendous opportunity to help the students who need it most, by supporting their teachers. We are excited about the potential!
Lowell Amiotte named Indian Education Director





Proposals sought for 2014 Indian Education Summit




South Dakota Education Data Governance Group meets

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