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For Immediate Release: Dec. 20, 2006
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

New tool allows students to create personal learning plans

High school students across South Dakota now have access to a powerful academic and career planning tool. The Department of Education and the Education Assistance Corporation have teamed up to provide high school students with an online tool that allows them to create their own personal learning plan. The effort is part of the Governor’s 2010 Education Initiative.

“One of our major goals with 2010E is to increase the number of students who graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education,” said Secretary of Education Rick Melmer. “This tool supports that goal by helping students, and their parents, create a plan that fits the student’s unique goals and helps to ensure a smooth transition from high school to higher education.”

The online software package, called Guidance Central, consists of three components. The first component introduces students to a variety of careers through video clips, quizzes and blogs. The second gauges the student’s skills, interests and values. It allows for side-by-side comparisons of careers, considering elements such as academic preparation and potential career earnings. The third component features practice tests to prepare students for college entrance exams.

“Too often we see students enter higher education unprepared for a specific academic path,” Melmer said. “It’s not that their high school preparation wasn’t adequate. It’s more about making sure students’ academic experience in high school aligns with their postsecondary goals. This package pulls it all together.”

Students use the software to identify possible career paths, postsecondary schools that offer programs in the chosen area, and high school courses necessary to meet entrance requirements into a particular postsecondary program. All are key components of a personal learning plan.

The online software package is being provided free to schools by the Education Assistance Corporation in Aberdeen. “Education Assistance Corporation is committed to helping students and their families have access to the information and tools they need to make postsecondary education possible,” said Clark Wold, EAC’s president. “We’re pleased to partner with the Department of Education on this important project.”

To date, more than 165 schools and multidistricts have been trained to use the software package with their students. Private schools, tribal schools and schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in South Dakota also have access to the program.

Governor Rounds’ 2010 Education Initiative calls for South Dakota to become first in the nation for the percentage of students going on to college or technical school. Schools across South Dakota are implementing a variety of strategies which target that goal. Besides personal learning plans, these strategies include implementing more rigorous graduation requirements, senior projects, programs that connect K-12 schools to business, virtual learning, and one-to-one laptop initiatives through South Dakota’s Classroom Connections.