Due to COVID-19, South Dakota reports little data to measure if students are learning

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:25 AM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota’s Department of Education has released its annual “Report Card,” which is intended to provide important information about the state’s public schools. It includes data for public schools and school districts as a whole for all of South Dakota.

Typically, it has a variety of indicators that contribute to schools' overall performance, but that has all changed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the department of education has to react on the fly.

Specifically, the report card is missing much of the data related to student performance and progress. The Department of Education says that this is due to the fact that students were unable to take certain state assessments.

What is there reflects an overall rise in the percentage of students obtaining a high school diploma or a GED. South Dakota’s high school completion rate was 93 percent for school year 2019-20, up three percentage points from the previous year. High school completion reflects the percentage of students who have attained a high school diploma or GED. Graduation rate, which is a measure of students who completed high school in four years, stayed steady for 2019-20.

Seventy-three percent of students hit the “coursework readiness” mark, compared to 68% last year. Coursework readiness reflects the completion of at least one course through the state’s dual credit program; passing an Advanced Placement exam or successful completion of at least two credits of career and technical education in one subject area.

However, due to COVID-19, many data points are missing.

“The main data pieces missing are the state assessment results, the ELA, the math, and the science assessment results are missing. The progress from those assessments are missing, as well as is the attendance and the other academic indicator for the other elementary and middle school levels,” said Shannon Malone, South Dakota Department of Education accountability administrator.

New to the report card this year is “education spending” but that will also be missing for a few months longer due to the pandemic.

“The financial data has not been incorporated into our report card previously, this will be the first year we will be incorporating it, we hope to have it on the report card by Dec. 31, 2020,” said Malone.

School districts use that data to provide the public, and invested parties, with important information.

“(The) State report card is really information for our stakeholders of how we are doing to educate and prepare our students for their next step,” said Dr. Teresa Boysen, Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent of Academic Achievement.

With the data that is missing from the report card due to the pandemic, there are some challenges that districts will have to overcome. However, they monitor progress throughout the year.

“We can’t wait till Spring to see how our students are doing, because by that time it is too late, so we need those markers along the way to measure the progress of students, so we can change and adapt our instruction. When we get that final report card, it is supposed to be a celebration of how we have done,” said Dr. Boysen.

If all goes as planned, the State Department of Education intends to put out a completely normal report card next year.

You can view the report card by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 KEVN. All rights reserved.

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