Monday, August 24, 2015

A Welcome Back message from Secretary Schopp

I’m energized for the new school year. Many South Dakota schools are back in session, and others soon will be.

We are asking folks to share their back to school photos with the hashtag #SDBackToSchool. You can find us on Twitter @sddoe. I hope you’ll join in the fun!

I would also like to make you aware of a new publication developed by the Department of Education, entitled “Celebrating South Dakota Teachers.” This magazine highlights some of the great things teachers are doing across our state. Our goal with this publication is to elevate and raise awareness about the importance of the teaching profession and to highlight the positive things happening in South Dakota classrooms. The magazine features many of our state’s award-winning teachers.

An electronic version of "Celebrating South Dakota Teachers" is also available.

There is much to celebrate in South Dakota public education. 

Have a great school year!

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Value of Dual Credit Courses, a column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Like other young South Dakotans, Kelcie Hauf of Dell Rapids is getting ready to head back to school. As a high school senior, Kelcie is trying to decide which field to study when she graduates. Rather than wait until she gets to college to explore career options, Kelcie is participating in the dual credit program. Because she is considering a career in counseling, Kelcie took a dual credit introductory speech course last spring. This fall she will be utilizing the dual credit program to take Psychology 101 to explore that career path further.

Dual credit courses allow students like Kelcie to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. At only $40 per credit hour, these courses provide students and their families significant cost savings. These are the cheapest university or technical school credits a student will ever take, and they can save hundreds of dollars by taking just one course. Last year, South Dakota students saved more than $2.5 million by using this program – averaging more than $1,000 per student in savings.

At a time when the cost of college is a great concern, dual credit courses are a great way to save money. They also save time, making it more likely that students will graduate on time. Every dual credit course taken in high school is a course that need not be taken in college.

In its first year, this program has been a tremendous success. Last year, 1,946 public, private, Bureau of Indian Education, tribal and homeschool students participated, with a pass rate of 92.76 percent. Thirty-nine districts had at least one quarter of their juniors and seniors complete courses.

Many students take dual credit courses online, which provides greater flexibility in scheduling.  These courses also make dual credit available to students who are not near a university or technical institute.

Just as Kelcie is doing, students can explore their interests with dual credit.  A student who might want to study robotics or medical lab technology after high school could take an introductory course from one of the state’s technical institutes to try out the program before making a final decision. If the student then decides to pursue that career, he or she has a jump start on a degree. Or perhaps a student wants to take a college algebra course not available at the local district. He or she could take that course from a state university.

With dual credit, students take college-level courses while still having the support of their local high school educators who can help them develop the skills they will need, like stronger time management and study skills. In fact, data shows that students who take dual credit do better when they go on to college or a technical institute – even after adjusting for grade point average, ACT scores and other performance indicators.

Today, more than ever before, it’s important for young people to continue their education beyond high school. The escalating number of people earning degrees and the increasingly competitive global economy require today’s workforce to have greater skill sets and more education. Dual credit can help prepare our students for that next step.

Visit to learn more.