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For Immediate Release: Jan. 15, 2009
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Initiative aims to make high school more rigorous, relevant

State legislators got a taste of high school in the 21st century today, when the Department of Education officially launched its High School 2025 initiative. High School 2025 offers a framework of key practices to prepare students for success in today’s global economy.

“The whole purpose of High School 2025 is to provide a student-focused experience based on the four Rs: relevance, relationships, rigor and results,” said Mark Wilson, director of career and technical education for the Department of Education. “How is it different from what schools are currently doing? It’s much more focused on the individual student’s academic and career goals. Students make the connection between what they are doing in high school and how it will impact their lives in the future.”

Personal learning plans play a significant role in the High School 2025 model. Each student develops a plan that lays out coursework and activities based on long-term academic and career goals. As 8th graders, students take an interest assessment that helps them to identify a potential career field of interest, called a “career cluster.” Armed with that information as well as input from parents and teachers, students begin to build a plan for their high school experience – one that will prepare them for specific postsecondary work, and ultimately, a career field.

“The fields of interest cover very broad areas: health science, information technology, manufacturing, and hospitality and tourism, for example,” Wilson said. “We also recognize that students will make changes to their plans over time.”

In addition to traditional academics, a personal learning plan may include things such as a capstone experience designed to demonstrate a student’s cumulative learning; an internship; and courses taken online.

As part of the High School 2025 kickoff, legislators watched portions of a new South Dakota Public Broadcasting television program dedicated to High School 2025. The program, which is a joint effort of SDPB and the South Dakota Department of Education, will air for the first time on SDPB-TV Jan. 20, 7 p.m. Central / 6 p.m. Mountain.


For more information about High School 2025, visit