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For Immediate Release: November 19, 2004
Contact: Mary Stadick-Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota Ranks 10th in Nation for Academic Achievement

South Dakota ranks 10th in the nation for academic achievement, according to the 2004 Report Card on American Education, published by the American Legislative Exchange Council. The study focuses on primary and secondary education.

“This study confirms what we’ve known for a long time – that South Dakota’s education system is top-notch and can compete on a national level,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “While test scores are just one measurement of success, we are certainly pleased with this ranking. We also know that there’s a lot of work to be done, especially in areas such as preschool and Native American education.”

The Report Card on American Education uses average scores on three widely used assessments – the SAT, ACT and NAEP – as a basis for its rankings. South Dakota students scored above the national average on all three assessments.

A small percentage (4 percent) of South Dakota students take the SAT, with an average composite score of 1176 for 2003, compared to the national average of 1026. A much larger group of South Dakota students (70 percent) take the ACT, with an average composite score of 21.4 in 2003, compared to the national average of 20.8. On the 8th grade mathematics portion of the NAEP – the only portion considered in this study – South Dakota students scored 285 in 2003, compared to a national average of 276.

Other top ranking states include: Minnesota (#1), Wisconsin (#2), Massachusetts (#3), New Hampshire (#4), and Iowa (#5).

In addition to ranking the 50 states and District of Columbia, the study looks at measures of correlation between public investment and student performance.

“There are a whole host of factors involved when considering what makes a student succeed – things such as teacher quality and commitment, parent involvement and home environment, and a challenging curriculum,” Dr. Melmer said. “Some of these can be high-ticket items; others cost little to do.”