Supporting strong instruction and
During the pandemic, South Dakota's absenteeism rates nearly doubled. Chronic absenteeism can lead to a host of problems, including increased risk of dropping out. Bottom line: Students can't learn if they are not in school.
With the aim of re-engaging students and families, DOE launched a full-scale public awareness campaign in fall 2022 to promote regular school attendance. From billboards to social media, and a variety of avenues in between, the campaign is sharing messages about the consequences of not showing up to school on a regular basis. The campaign will run through fall 2024.
Statewide Literacy Initiative
Literacy is the foundation for all learning. As youngsters enter the K-12 school system, they spend their early years learning to read. After third grade, they start reading to learn. To build literacy statewide, DOE is establishing a statewide literacy initiative. The initiative will include components aimed at both educators and families.
South Dakota has seen proficiency rates in English language arts and math drop since 2018-19. At the local level, educators work diligently to provide individualized supports to students to address their particular needs. To supplement these efforts, the Department of Education has partnered with the Board of Regents to provide free online tutoring for K-12 students.
The new Dakota Dreams Online Tutoring Program utilizes a simple and secure online platform, where students and tutors connect for virtual sessions. Tutors provide support in English/language arts, math, science, and social studies. Once parents have registered their student, sessions can be pre-scheduled or accessed on-demand, depending on tutor availability.
Students who have been accepted into the Schools of Education at Black Hills State University and Northern State University serve as tutors.
Recognizing the opportunity to get young people engaged in their learning and interested in potential careers in South Dakota, the Department of Education and Board of Regents established Career Exploration Summer Camps for seventh and eighth graders. Camps are held each summer through 2024 on public university campuses, with day trips to nearby technical colleges. During the week on campus, students get exposure to 10 career paths through hands-on learning experiences.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a proven method for engaging students in their learning. The department offered school districts a one-time grant opportunity to support investments in new, or existing, CTE programs. Students across the state will have the chance to explore a variety of career-related activities thanks to these grants.
K-5 STEM Initiative
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education can play a pivotal role in encouraging students to be active participants in their own learning. This effort will fund grants to community-based organizations that serve young students, to develop and expand STEM programming, materials, and resources. It also will involve creation of a state plan for computer science across the grades, new educator certification options, and professional learning opportunities for teachers.
Out-of-School-Time (OST) Programming
Out-of-school time activities complement students' regular academic program and can play a key role in their development. The department is working with partners to support and enhance quality OST programming statewide, called Path2Impact. The effort will encompass resources for staff and those leading OST programs; tools for maintaining and developing strong staff; and access to quality lessons aligned to state standards.