Opportunity Scholarship makes impact
A Board of Regents report says the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship has positively impacted students’ preparation for college.

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Group to develop teaching standards

South Dakota will begin the process of developing teaching standards this summer. A work group is scheduled to meet June 9 in Pierre.

A bill passed during the 2010 legislative session directs the Department of Education to convene the work group. Its mission is two-fold: 1) to provide input in developing teaching standards, and 2) to develop a model evaluation tool. Its members include teachers, school administrators, board members, parents, and representatives of key education groups.

Senate Bill 24 also reinstates a requirement for teacher evaluation, which was eliminated by the Legislature more than a decade ago. Under the new law, public school districts seeking accreditation will be required to evaluate their certified teachers at least once annually for individuals in years one through three of their teaching careers, and at least once every other year for teachers in year four and beyond.

“This is a step forward for education in South Dakota,” said Deputy Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “By establishing clear, high-quality standards, we elevate the teaching profession and we provide a consistent set of measurements that can be used statewide.”

Senate Bill 24 also requires that local districts adopt procedures for evaluating certified teachers that:

1) Are based on the minimum professional performance standards;
2) Require multiple measures;
3) Serve as the basis for programs to increase professional growth and development of certified teachers;
4) Include a plan of assistance for any certified teacher, who is in the fourth or subsequent year of teaching, and whose performance does not meet the school district’s performance standards.

According to Schopp, official adoption of teaching standards must go through the South Dakota Board of Education. Senate Bill 24 directs that this process must take place by July 1, 2011.