South Dakota is one step closer to adopting the Common Core State Standards. At its Sept. 28 meeting, the state Board of Education voted to move the Common Core to a public hearing in November.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “Common standards will help to ensure that all students receive a high quality education consistently, whether that student is in South Dakota or South Carolina.”
Currently, each state has its own process for developing, adopting and implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to learn can vary widely from state to state. The Common Core Standards set clear, rigorous and common goals for success in two content areas: English language arts and math.
“These standards have been built from the highest state standards in the country,” Oster said. “They’re rigorous, they’re evidence-based, and they align with college and work expectations.”
They also align closely with South Dakota’s current standards for English language arts, and the new math standards the state was developing when the Common Core initiative was first announced, said Becky Nelson, who oversaw the alignment efforts for the state. According to Nelson, the department has shared previous drafts of the Common Core Standards with teachers and curriculum directors across the state, and overall response has been mostly positive.
States also have some flexibility to add to the Common Core if they wish. “For us, that addition would likely include concepts that are unique to South Dakota, such as the American Indian content standards that we’re working on,” Oster said.
After Nov. 1, public comment can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two big questions remain
While the board could vote to adopt the Common Core Standards as early as November of this year, implementation would be delayed. New standards would require a new assessment – to replace the existing Dakota STEP – and test development is a lengthy and expensive process.
South Dakota is part of a consortium of 31 states that recently received a $160 million grant to begin development of a state-of-the-art assessment aligned to the Common Core Standards.
“The assessment tool would need to be in place, and we would need to have an extensive training of teachers – giving them time to become familiar with the new standards – before we could begin implementing them in classrooms across the state,” Oster said.
The department will present a plan for implementation at the November Board of Education meeting.
South Dakota has another factor to consider when weighing adoption. States that adopt the Common Core Standards will likely enjoy a competitive edge when applying for federal grants. States that don’t adopt could lose out on competitive grant funds made available by the U.S. Department of Education.
Now taking public comment
The South Dakota Board of Education will take public comment regarding the Common Core Standards at its Nov. 29 meeting in Mitchell. View the proposed standards at:
Proposed English Language Arts Standards – Common Core
Proposed Mathematics Standards – Common Core
Comments also can be mailed to:
South Dakota Department of Education
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501