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


There’s one week left in the legislative session. I can now report that all anti-Common Core resolutions and bills have failed. The individuals who came to Pierre to protest the standards are concerned about South Dakota students. That’s a concern we all share, so going forward I hope the lines of communication remain open between parents, teachers, administrators, school boards and the department.

The Smarter Balanced Field Test window opens March 18, allowing students across the state to take the first statewide assessment aligned to the Common Core. This is exciting. As a Smarter Balanced member, South Dakota has played a leading role in the development of the assessment. Educators from South Dakota have participated in the process by reviewing and testing thousands of test items and performance tasks.

There will be some bumps along the road. We fully expect that. But, overall, I am confident the Field Test will be a success. I am thankful that we have this year to test our infrastructure, and to give us all exposure to the test without the pressure of SPI scores. Please encourage your teachers and students during this time to get the most out of this learning experience.

While no student scores will be reported this year, in the future this new test will give us a much clearer picture of how South Dakota students are doing—what they know and where they need more help.

Before closing, I also want to draw your attention to the South Dakota Teacher of the Year competition. Once a year, we get this great opportunity to recognize the state’s most talented teachers. It starts at the district level. District Teachers of the Year have the opportunity to become Regional Teachers of the Year, and ultimately, the South Dakota Teacher of the Year is chosen from this group. Click here for more information on the nominating process.

Thank you for all of your hard work. I know it can be easy to get bogged down in the details, but I hope you know that every day, you’re making a difference in students’ lives.


Legislative session winding down
Click here for information on bills DOE is tracking



Vermillion Middle School project finalist in Samsung competition
Students are studying how Asian carp threaten native fish species in the Missouri River and raising community awareness.
>>> LEARN MORE



Yankton students take stand against bullying
Webster Elementary students created a music video to spread their anti-bullying message.





Dan Guericke and James Cutshaw discuss SD Innovation Lab schools, where projects guide learning. SDIL is a partnership of the Mid Central Educational Cooperative, Sanford Research and the PAST Foundation.

Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe