South Dakota remains committed to rigorous college- and career-ready standards and aligned assessments.
The state is implementing standards based on the Common Core State Standards and is using the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as its statewide assessment in English Language Arts and math in grades 3-8 and high school, a strong foundation for its accountability system that will help the state meet the educational needs of all students.
One unique feature of South Dakota’s plan is its attention to Native American students, who make up 15 percent of the state’s population. While there are no plans to develop tests in Native American languages—as they are historically spoken, not written, and are often spoken by students who are not English learners—the state should be commended for including details regarding the prevalence of these and other languages. South Dakota has also articulated a clear method for measuring English language proficiency using the WIDA ACCESS 2.0 assessment.
The state is interested in pursuing innovative assessment opportunities that would permit schools to assess students at their level of learning, rather than against grade-level standards.
As the state explores competency-based approaches to assessment, it should take care to proceed in a way that continues to ensure all students, particularly those who are further behind, are expected to meet college- and career-ready expectations.
Lastly, South Dakota could strengthen its plan by providing more information about its alternate achievement standards and aligned assessments for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities, including the process in place to meet the 1 percent cap on alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.