By Jackelyn Severin, January 16, 2015, SD Public Broadcasting
South Dakota’s Secretary of Education says overall South Dakota students are doing well but there are few areas that could improve. The Department of Education provided a plan to lawmakers outlining 4 major goals to help students become ready for college and the workforce when they leave K-12.
The first goal of the department is to make sure students can read proficiently by the end of third grade. The second goal is making sure students have mastered algebra by 8th grade. Melody Schopp is the Secretary of Education. She says those who are not proficient in these foundational skills early on in life struggle in school and have a greater chance of dropping out. She says one initiative to help struggling students is giving teachers more training and support by bringing qualified instructional coaches to the classroom.
SCHOPP (0:20) They go out to the district and they actually become that friend in the classroom who doesn’t just sit there and observe, or mentor, but they demonstrate, they model, they critique. Not in a way that its intimidating but in a way that they’re going to provide support. They get teachers together in the school and they say ok what are some things that we can do that is going to help this group of kids.
The department of education’s third goal is to reduce the dropout rate among Native American populations. Schopp says one initiative that is already making huge strides in combating this problem in South Dakota is the Jobs for America’s Graduates program.
SCHOPP (0:17) It’s focused on kids that you know are not going to make it. And it connects them with a significant adult in their life, gives them hope for the future, connects them with opportunities and to see that they do have a future after they leave high school and it saves and it works.
Schopp says the Education Department is also focusing on preparing students for postsecondary education and the workforce. She say this achieved by helping students with career planning, developing workforce skills, making more dual credit and advanced placement courses available and providing technical education opportunities.
SCHOPP (0:13) So they’ve got all these things at different levels of where they come so that when they hit the ground they’re eligible for scholarships or they’re eligible to go to college or they’ve made that so that they can just seamlessly transition out of K-12 and we’ve done our job.
Schopp says the overall goal of the department is to have every student be college, career, and life ready. Schopp says the department will ask lawmakers to approve expanding these initiatives and improving additional funding for the Jobs for America’s Graduates program.