Secretary of Education: Melody Schopp
Primary Point of Contact: Sam Shaw — Science Education Specialist
Organizations: Mid-Central Educational Cooperative; Sanford Health Research Center; PAST Foundation; Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory; South Dakota Science Teachers Association; South Dakota State University; Sanford Center for Science Education; Black Hills State University (BHSU); Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education
Background: South Dakota students must complete three units of laboratory science comprised of one unit of biology, one unit of any physical science, and one unit of either chemistry or physics in order to meet graduation requirements. The South Dakota Science Content Standards are organized by grade level until high school where they are then organized by grade band and further specified by South Dakota’s five strands of Nature of Science, Life Science, Physical Science, Earth/Space Science, and Science Technology, the Environment, and Society. Science is assessed using the South Dakota State Test of Educational Progress (Dakota STEP) in grades 5, 8, and 11. In South Dakota, each student is required to have a Personal Learning Plan, and through this plan, if deemed appropriate by the parent/guardian and school counselor or administrator, a student can be exempt from the required courses of chemistry or physics. While exempt from these particular courses, the student is still required to take three units of laboratory science. The current South Dakota science standards were adopted in 2005, and South Dakota is predicting adopting the NGSS in the fall of 2014.
Commitment: South Dakota has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning in its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. South Dakota has developed workshops to break down the CCSS for adaptable classroom use, and therefore will have these tools in hand for use with the NGSS. South Dakota is anticipating adoption in fall of 2014 in order to use 2013 for the above mentioned workshops, and to add or revise as necessary. South Dakota is a representation of the rural United States and the South Dakota Department of Education partners regularly with organizations focused on higher education, research, and development, and will use these past experiences to augment the NGSS.
STEM Involvement: STEM education is extremely important to South Dakota, and therefore many STEM initiatives are present which can act as models for other states. One major development, South Dakota is working to create STEM schools in rural areas that use Project-Based Learning and unique instructional STEM design processes. These schools are created through partnerships with Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, Sanford Health, and the PAST Foundation and are scheduled to launch in the 2011–2012 school year.
Alliances and Infrastructure: South Dakota has strong partnerships with numerous organizations that will be helpful in instituting the NGSS. The Sanford Health Research Center has developed an educational laboratory within their Health Research Center and has hired a teacher to assist schools, teachers, and students with access to lab supplies, high level educational resources, and research opportunities. Additionally, Sanford Health has been involved in the creation of the STEM schools, as mentioned above. The Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory is currently working to develop an educational program regarding underground science and engineering, and is scheduled to be complete before the adoption of the NGSS in 2014. The South Dakota Teachers Association is a strong proponent of the NGSS for they have stated that the current standards are limiting teachers and students in reaching their full potential. These associations, among others, will help South Dakota with the adoption and implementation of the NGSS.
Check back soon for more information on South Dakota's state team and implementation plans