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For Immediate Release: Jan. 14, 2013
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Education Groups Launch Commission on Teaching and Learning

Educators from across South Dakota came together today to look at the best strategies to support students and teachers in the classroom. Participants gathered in Fort Pierre and via technology, for a summit on teaching and learning titled “Rethinking Education Reforms and Accountability” hosted by the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA).

Teachers, administrators, lawmakers and school board members were on hand to hear presentations from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Education Association and the South Dakota Department of Education. The group then began a dialogue on what can be done collaboratively to ensure the best outcomes for all students.

At the conclusion of the summit, SDEA President Sandy Arseneault announced the formation of a Commission on Teaching and Learning, which is a partnership of SDEA, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD), the School Administrators of South Dakota (SASD), and the South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE). Arseneault said the Commission’s goal is to create a blueprint for quality instruction in South Dakota.

“The Commission’s charge is to examine various strategies that will support positive student outcomes. It will then make recommendations that are research based and have been found to be sound practice,” said Arseneault. “We intend to look at everything from our teacher preparation programs to strategies for improving graduation rates and the question we will always have in front of us is: will this help students?” The Commission’s first task will be to continue the work begun this summer to develop model teacher and principal evaluation systems that districts may choose to use.

“Two work groups made significant progress this summer in developing evaluation systems that honor our teachers and principals as professionals and support them in their ongoing growth,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, secretary of the SDDOE. “This new Commission would answer some final questions and wrap up this important work. Ultimately, then, districts would have valid state-recommended models that they could choose to implement locally.”

Both Arseneault and Schopp believe the collaborative effort will translate into positive things for students. “Through the Commission, I hope we create a foundation for all stakeholders to come together to support positive student outcomes,” said Arseneault. “If we stay focused on the students, I know the Commission’s work will be valuable to our state.”

The Commission will have up to a year to deliver its final report.