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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Jan. 2016  
Letter from the Secretary

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, I know many of you are wondering what this new law means for South Dakota.

We don’t anticipate schools will notice any major changes in the short term. We still have our standards. We are still required to assess students every year in grades 3-8 and 11. Our teacher and principal evaluation systems remain in place.

I’m pleased that the ESSA puts more control back in the hands of our state’s educators and allows for more local decision-making. In preparation for full implementation of the law in the 2017-18 school year, we will pull together a group of stakeholders to examine our accountability system. Where we had been under certain guidelines and requirements with No Child Left Behind, there may be opportunities to make changes that are more appropriate for South Dakota students, schools and educators.

Standards review schedule
At the state Board of Education meeting Jan. 7, the department will ask the board to consider a proposal regarding the standards review schedule. Revision of the state’s English language arts standards was already scheduled to begin this summer. The proposal moves the review of the state’s math standards up one year, so it will also happen this summer.

The state believes the current ELA and math standards support college and career readiness. We also know that many states have had to respond to directives or legislation mandating a change in standards, and we think this push will become stronger in South Dakota this year, due to passage of the ESSA. By taking this proactive approach of reviewing math standards a year earlier than planned, we hope to alleviate concerns some people may have about the standards by allowing for modifications if any are needed.

As required by law, each set of revised standards would then receive four public hearings in four different locations across the state. These proposed schedule changes do not affect the timeline for teaching to revised standards.

2016 Legislative Session
The 2016 Legislature will soon be in session, and I know all of you will be paying close attention as legislators address the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. Here at the department, we look forward to discussion of this important issue, and we will keep you updated throughout the session.

Thank you for everything you do for South Dakota students.


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