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SD Department of Education Sept. 2016  

  Teacher feedback wanted on revised math, ELA, health standards

Work groups reviewed and revised the state’s math, English language arts and health education standards throughout summer 2016. All K-12 educators are encouraged to provide feedback on these proposed changes by May 15, 2017.

Math and English language arts
The South Dakota Department of Education recently emailed districts a standards review toolkit outlining options for presenting proposed math and ELA standards and guiding discussion among staff. The toolkit is designed to meet a variety of district needs: from a 15-minute presentation for all staff, up to two-three hours for in-depth discussions within grade levels and departments.

“There were educated, informed (sometimes lively) debates over the addition, amendment or deletion of nearly every word or phrase in almost every ELA Standard Strand K-12,” said Redfield Elementary Principal and ELA work group member Samantha Walder.

Nicol Reiner, the South Dakota Department of Education’s new math specialist, also appreciated the review process: “Being involved in the math standards revision was such a valuable experience. The conversations with colleagues about the standards and their implications for learning and instruction were so deep and insightful. Each time we met, I walked away with a more refined understanding of not only the mathematics being learned at each grade level, but how it is best learned, how it fits in with the other concepts in other grades, and why the grouping, progression and alignment of concepts is so important.”

“We really hope all South Dakota educators will dig into these proposed changes,” said Teresa Berndt, reading specialist for the Department of Education. “If you’re a 3rd grade teacher, I hope you’ll look at your own grade-level standards, but also up and down: Do the 2nd grade standards appropriately build to yours, and do your standards build to 4th grade?”

It is also important to remember that ELA standards cover reading and writing standards for literacy in science, history/social studies and technical subjects. “This means everyone has insight to offer,” says Berndt. “For instance, if you teach high school chemistry, I hope you’ll take a look at the literacy standards for science.”

Health education
Ten committee members representing school districts, community agencies and the general public examined the current South Dakota Health Education Standards and Performance Indicators for Pre-K through grade 12. Committee members reviewed the current SDHES, which are modeled after the National Health Education Standards. The large group discussion resulted in the decision to keep the SDHES as currently written, the rationale being that the SDHES provide greater use of nationally developed health education resources, and the SDHES will remain relevant over time.

However, revisions were made to the performance indicators for each of the four grade spans (Pre-K-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12). Committee members worked in small groups to conduct a thorough review and revision of the indicators. The majority of revisions occurred relative to the level of cognitive complexity of the performance indicators. The goal of the revisions is to provide a greater sense of clarity as to what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade span.

The proposed SDHES and performance indicators are available on the South Dakota Department of Education content standards webpage. Educators can provide feedback on the proposed standards and performance indicators by completing this survey.

Revision and adoption timelines
Standards work groups will reconvene in summer 2017 to consider all feedback from the field and make any necessary changes. All three sets of standards will then receive four public hearings at state Board of Education meetings during the 2017-18 school year.

After board approval, 2018-19 will be capacity-building years for revised ELA and health education standards, with educators expected to teach to the new standards in school year 2019-20. Students will be assessed on the new ELA standards for the first time in spring 2020. Students are assessed on health education through local assessments only.

Capacity-building for revised math standards will be 2018-20, after board approval. Educators will be expected to teach to the new standards in school year 2020-21, and students will be assessed on the new standards for the first time in spring 2021.

Find detailed information on the revision process for these three sets of standards on the Department of Education website:

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