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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education June 2016  
Letter from the Secretary

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Education released draft rules related to the new Every Student Succeeds Act. We are combing through these rules carefully and plan to make public comment back to U.S. Ed. We will push for as much state and local decision making as possible. I encourage those of you who are interested to review the rules as well and offer public comment directly to U.S. Ed.

Statewide work groups are developing the State Plan required under the ESSA. Our state’s accountability system is already strong because of the work done over the past several years to obtain our No Child Left Behind waivers. This process is a great opportunity to examine what’s working well and see where flexibilities within the ESSA might allow us to fine tune some aspects to make them a better fit for South Dakota.

Several other work groups are also busy this summer. The teacher mentoring work group has begun to meet. Senate Bill 133, part of the education package passed by this year’s legislature, includes the development of a statewide mentoring program. This is an energized group who understands well the importance of supporting early-career teachers in order to increase retention.

Another group that came about as a result of this year’s legislative session is the dyslexia work group, scheduled to begin meeting June 14. We want to make sure our state’s current and future teachers feel equipped to help identify and effectively serve students with dyslexia. This group will look at strategies for ensuring our educators feel prepared in this area. Group members will update South Dakota’s Dyslexia Handbook as well.

A new round of standards work is beginning too. Hard to believe it’s already been six years since South Dakota adopted new standards in English language arts and math, but it is time to start reviewing and revising them. The Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards are part of the review cycle for the first time. Health education standards are also up for review. And with new standards in six CTE career clusters adopted in May, it’s time to start reviewing more career clusters.

You can follow all of these groups’ progress on the Department of Education website.


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