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Letter from the Secretary

SD Department of Education
Sept. 2017  
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Photo of Dr. Melody Schopp Letter from the Secretary

I hope your school year is off to a great start.

Once again, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed September Attendance Awareness Month in South Dakota. It was wonderful to see how districts promoted consistent attendance throughout the past school year, and I’m excited to see these messages continuing this year.

The importance of attendance is such common sense, it can actually be easy to forget to talk about it.

Just talking about it, though, can be a great place to start. Whether it’s greeting students as they get off the bus, walk into their classroom or at lunchtime, a simple “Hello, how are you?” can make a difference. Or, “Great to see you! We missed you when you were gone yesterday. Everything okay?”

Comments like these can go a long way toward helping students see that not only their peers, but their teachers and administrators notice and care whether they are in school.

Proactive admissions and college readiness coursework
I also want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a couple letters I will be sending out to South Dakota public high school seniors this month. Both are aimed at helping ensure South Dakota students graduate college, career and life ready.

Proactive admissions letters will be sent to seniors who scored at Level 3 or 4 on their 11th grade Smarter Balanced test or earned a composite score of 18 on the ACT to alert them they’ve been granted guaranteed general admittance to South Dakota’s public universities and technical institutes. (Please note that the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology’s requirements differ slightly.)

College readiness coursework letters will be sent to seniors who scored at a Level 2 on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced test or had an ACT English sub-score below 18/math sub-score below 20. These students have the opportunity to complete postsecondary remedial coursework while still in high school. This coursework is provided by the Department of Education and includes courses intended to assist high school seniors who need continued support in developing the skills necessary to enroll in credit-bearing coursework at the postsecondary level.

If you are not already helping students navigate this college readiness coursework, I strongly encourage you to look into it. It’s a great way to help students hit the ground running once they enter college.

The department will be providing districts reports via SD-STARS to let them see which of their students qualify for either of these initiatives.

Thank you for everything you do to help prepare South Dakota students for college, career and life.


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