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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Sept. 2016  

Engage staff in math & ELA standards discussions

Work groups reviewed and revised the state’s math and English language arts standards throughout summer 2016. During the 2016-17 school year, all K-12 educators are encouraged to provide feedback on these proposed changes.

The South Dakota Department of Education will be emailing districts a toolkit in coming weeks outlining options for presenting proposed standards and guiding discussion among staff. The toolkit is designed to meet a variety of district needs: from a 15-minute presentation for all staff, up to two-three hours for in-depth discussions within grade levels and departments.

Lively conversations
“There were educated, informed (sometimes lively) debates over the addition, amendment or deletion of nearly every word or phrase in almost every ELA Standard Strand K-12,” said Redfield Elementary Principal and ELA work group member Samantha Walder. “And, although there is still work to be done in the revision process and our group did create many recommendations for the disaggregating process, the new South Dakota ELA Standards will have been created with input from South Dakota educators. One addition that was brought to the group that I am glad to see is explicit handwriting standards in lower elementary.”

Nicol Reiner, the South Dakota Department of Education’s new math specialist, also appreciated the review process: “Being involved in the math standards revision was such a valuable experience. The conversations with colleagues about the standards and their implications for learning and instruction were so deep and insightful. Each time we met, I walked away with a more refined understanding of not only the mathematics being learned at each grade level, but how it is best learned, how it fits in with the other concepts in other grades, and why the grouping, progression and alignment of concepts is so important.”

“We really hope all South Dakota educators will dig into these proposed changes,” said Teresa Berndt, reading specialist for the Department of Education. “If you’re a 3rd grade teacher, I hope you’ll look at your own grade-level standards, but also up and down: Do the 2nd grade standards appropriately build to yours, and do your standards build to 4th grade?”

It is also important to remember that ELA standards cover reading and writing standards for literacy in science, history/social studies and technical subjects. “This means everyone has insight to offer,” says Berndt. “For instance, if you teach high school chemistry, I hope you’ll take a look at the literacy standards for science.”

Revision and adoption timelines
Standards work groups will reconvene in June 2017 to consider all feedback from the field and make any necessary changes. Both sets of standards will then receive four public hearings before the state Board of Education during the 2017-18 school year.

After board approval, 2018-19 will be capacity-building years for revised ELA standards, with educators expected to teach to the new standards in school year 2019-20. Students will be assessed on the new standards for the first time in spring 2020.

Capacity-building for revised math standards will be 2018-20, after board approval. Educators will be expected to teach to the new standards in school year 2020-21, and students will be assessed on the new standards for the first time in spring 2021.

Find detailed information on the revision process for both sets of standards on the Department of Education website:
    • Math
    • English language arts

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