A column by Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones
The South Dakota Department of Education has released its strategic plan, which will guide the department’s activities through 2024. Based on our professional experience, judgment, and knowledge, we believe the plan provides a concise illustration of the department’s future and work for our next generation. Chief among our priorities is championing excellence in South Dakota’s K-12 education system.
As part of our strategy, the department has initiated two implementation plans focused on decreasing the opportunity gap for students in poverty and establishing a networked community of allies focused on serving Native American learners to improve academic outcomes.
These initiatives have key points of overlap and will be primary efforts of the department and our partners in the coming years. Other priorities are expanding work-based learning and enhancing civics education.
The plan consists of four strategic directions: championing excellence, maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, and cultivating our professional culture. The strategies are intended to achieve the department’s vision of supporting local educators, investing in talent development, fostering research and innovation, supporting the whole learner, and reinventing accountability.
The department’s strategic plan clearly defines what we hope to be as a department in five years, and it describes who is working on which initiative and when. This is a living plan, to change as the needs of students change while keeping standards high and ensuring that a diploma is meaningful.
It is also important to note what this strategic plan is not. It is not the statewide plan driven by student achievement goals for South Dakota students. That is our state’s current Every Student Succeeds Act Plan. Instead, the department’s strategic plan details steps the department will take, as part of the wider effort of supporting South Dakota’s accredited schools, to improve our state’s educational environment. We will monitor progress on the ESSA plan, and make efforts to improve where there is need.
Together with our state’s educators and other important partners, our professional staff will begin to move in the strategic directions of maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, championing excellence, and cultivating our professional culture.
We embrace the work ahead.