Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Revising content standards in math and English language arts

A column by Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp

Some very important work got underway this summer in Pierre. A number of dedicated South Dakota educators and other stakeholders, including parents, began reviewing and revising South Dakota’s content standards in the areas of English language arts and math. At the state level, we remain committed to our standards and confident that they are preparing our students to be college, career and life ready.

Reviewing and revising standards in all content areas is a normal process that occurs at regular intervals (on average, about every seven years) to ensure students experience the most up-to-date, relevant education possible.

Throughout the 2016-17 school year, all of our state’s K-12 educators will have the opportunity to study the standards work groups’ proposed changes and offer feedback.

This is a great professional development opportunity. Department of Education staff and standards work group participants have developed a standards review toolkit to help guide schools’ discussions. In addition, a number of these individuals will be available to give school staff presentations on these topics.

Unfortunately, there is sometimes a misperception that standards review is simply a matter of reading over existing standards and offering some minor tweaks. However, if you could be a “fly on the wall” during these meetings, I promise you would hear a good deal of energetic discussion and debate from individuals who are passionate advocates for South Dakota students. Feedback from Redfield Elementary Principal and ELA work group member Samantha Walder is a great example:

“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,” Walder said.

In June 2017, the math and ELA standards work groups will meet to consider feedback from the education field and make any necessary changes before the revised standards are taken to the state Board of Education for public hearings. Four public hearings on each set of standards will be held during the 2017-18 school year.

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