Principle 1: High Quality Academic Standards and Assessments

South Dakota’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in June 2012. The waiver provides states with flexibility from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind. This allowed South Dakota to move forward in developing a new accountability system designed to provide a broader picture of school performance. This waiver has three critical components:

Principle 1: High Quality Academic Standards and Assessments
Principle 2: Statewide System of Accountability, Recognition and Support
Principle 3: Effective Teachers and Leaders

Principle 1: High Quality Academic Standards and Assessments

Common Core State Standards
Content standards provide the framework of expectations for student knowledge and skills. They lay the foundation for learning. In South Dakota, the state Board of Education is charged with adopting content standards.

The South Dakota Common Core standards are specific to the content areas of English language arts and mathematics. The standards provide a clear and rigorous set of expectations for what South Dakota students (grades K-12) should know and be able to do in each of these two critical subject areas. They are based upon research and align to expectations for college and career readiness in the 21st century. The standards are shared by a number of states.

High Quality Assessments
South Dakota has transitioned to new high quality academic assessments aligned to the state content standards.

English Language Arts and Mathematics Assessments
South Dakota has joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to help create a set of comprehensive and innovative assessments including state-of-the-art adaptive online exams, for grades 3-8 and high school in English language arts and mathematics aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Alternate Assessment (1% Assessment)
South Dakota is part of the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), a consortium of states developing high quality assessment systems to meet the needs of states to test their students with the most severe cognitive disabilities.

Assessment of English language learners
South Dakota participates in the WIDA consortium, a group of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English language learners. The WIDA consortium supports two assessments that are used by the state of South Dakota: the W-APT assessment tool, which is a screening test used to help to determine whether or not a child is in need of English language instructional services and the ACCESS exam, a large-scale test that addresses the academic English language proficiency (ELP) standards for English language learners. A new version of the ACCESS exam will be used starting in 2015-16.

National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)
The NCRC, sometimes referred to as “Work Keys”, is an ACT product that is an industry-recognized, portable credential that measures real world skills that are critical to success in the workplace. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, this assessment will available for all public schools to administer to their junior or senior students if they so choose. Schools choosing to give this assessment can use the results as a measure of career readiness in the state accountability system.


Contact the Office of Assessment Staff.