The pandemic was very hard on schoolchildren across this country. South Dakota was recently ranked first in the nation for the least amount of learning loss among students during the pandemic.
Because our students were in the classroom for all of last school year, our kids saw positive outcomes in their learning. In 2021, six of our schools were nationally recognized for excelling in the classroom. Arlington and Pinedale Elementary Schools, Gettysburg Middle School, and O’Gorman High School, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools were all named National Blue Ribbon Schools. Explorer and Platte-Geddes Elementary were both named National Distinguished Schools and will be honored next month at the National Elementary and Secondary Education Act Conference.
It is wonderful to see our elementary schools leading the nation in education, but we are also seeing success at middle schools and high schools through our Jobs for America’s Graduates programs, more commonly known as JAG. We brought this program to our state with legislation in 2019. This program focuses on helping students who are at high risk not to graduate. It has been tremendously successful at putting students on a path to graduation and future success.
In the last two years, JAG program enrollment has grown by 50 percent, and three new schools have been added. Today, South Dakota’s JAG programs have seen a nearly 100 percent graduation rate for program participants.
This year, the Lyman school board added its first JAG program. Students took advantage of opportunities to work with local and statewide volunteer organizations. Others explored cutting-edge careers in health care and cybersecurity. We have seen students not only make a change in their attitude toward school but also think about their future beyond high school and their place in their communities. JAG is helping these students at risk of dropping out to achieve graduation and be ready for their futures. And more school districts should look at bringing JAG into their communities.
South Dakota continues to expand our JAG programs to positively impact more young people. Thank you for your consistent support, we couldn’t do it without you!
Read the full 2022 State of State here.