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Latest Media Releases



For Immediate Release: August 10, 2005
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Gains in student achievement, school AYP highlights of 2005 Report Card



South Dakota’s students continue to make strides in reading and math, according to the 2005 Report Card. The number of students proficient in reading reached 82 percent, compared to 77 percent last year. The number of students proficient in math grew to 74 percent, up from 71 percent in 2004.

Further, an impressive 84 percent of schools and 98 percent of districts made adequate yearly progress for 2005, as required under No Child Left Behind.

“This Report Card is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of South Dakota’s educators, students and families,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “We have strong families and communities that believe in giving our young people the best opportunities, and that attitude shows through in our student achievement levels.”

South Dakota’s annual Report Card is based largely on the test scores of 64,000 public school students in grades 3-8 and 11, who took the Dakota STEP last spring. The Dakota STEP is the state’s major assessment tool under No Child Left Behind. The state sets annual goals for the test, as a way to measure progress towards the ultimate goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2013-14.

When considering all grades tested as a whole, the 2005 Report Card shows gains in each student subgroup for which schools may be held accountable. These subgroups include ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.

“We are extremely pleased to see gains in each of the subgroups,” Melmer said. The Native American subgroup, for example, has increased from 45 percent proficient in reading in 2003 – the first year of testing – to 59 percent proficient in 2005. “While that percentage is below where we want it to be, it demonstrates steady progress in the right direction,” Melmer said.
Progress also is evident in the area of school improvement. In 2005, the number of schools “in improvement” is 103, down from 106 last year. “In improvement” means that a school did not meet adequate yearly progress goals for two years. There are varying levels of “improvement,” based on the number of years a school misses its goals.

“We have fewer schools in improvement than last year, which is a great situation,” Melmer said. A number of factors likely contributed to this decrease. “First, our schools are focused on teaching to South Dakota’s content standards. They’re also becoming savvy at using test data and other solid research to improve their instruction.”

Despite the positive gains, South Dakota as a state did not make adequate yearly progress in math. “It seems contradictory when you have more schools making AYP and fewer schools in improvement,” Melmer said. “But as you aggregate the numbers at the state level, you have more students for which you are held accountable.”

The state is held accountable for students within the state’s corrections system and those who move from school to school during the year. “These students often are struggling with personal issues that impact their academic experience,” Melmer said.

Another area that does not show improvement over last year is the state’s graduation rate. It went from 92 percent in 2004 to 89 percent in 2005. The Department of Education is changing the way it calculates the graduation rate, in order to make it more accurate. Previously, the rate was calculated based on dropouts in 12th grade only. The 2005 graduation rate includes 12th, 11th and 10th grade students. Next year, 9th grade students will be added to the mix.

“As we approach the year 2013, the goals for proficiency get tougher,” Melmer said. “But South Dakota is up to challenge, and the Department of Education will continue to support our schools with the tools, resources and expertise we have available.”

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The full 2005 Report Card, including reports for individual schools, is available on the Department of Education’s Web site at the web address listed below. Click on the “Report Card” link.

http://doe.sd.gov