South Dakota one of nation's leaders for technology in schools
South Dakota is among the top states in the nation for technology in schools, according to a recent report by Education Week. South Dakota received an A grade for use of technology; a B for capacity to use technology; and an A for access to technology. The national average for these categories was B, C+ and C.
“South Dakota has been committed to technology in our K-12 schools for a long time,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “But it’s not just about offering the technology; it’s about actively using those tools to improve your curriculum and instruction.”
Education Week’s annual Technology Counts survey looks at factors such as whether a state has technology standards, offers computer-based assessments, and requires technology coursework as part of teacher preparation. The survey also considers the number of students per instructional computer, as well as access to high-speed Internet.
In recent years, South Dakota has taken steps to increase the integration of technology into the everyday activities of a classroom. The state’s technology standards, which serve as a blueprint for districts to follow in achieving technology proficiency for all students, were approved in 2007. The South Dakota Virtual School was launched that same year. The South Dakota Classroom Connections program helped districts purchase laptops for their high school students and offered teacher training as part of the package.
“Advanced Placement is another part of the equation,” Oster said. “We have some great opportunities for South Dakota students to take challenging online courses, and we would like to see more students taking advantage of that.”
The state Department of Education has a program that helps to subsidize the testing fee for qualified students who take Advanced Placement courses. The department is also part of a collaboration of educational agencies that received a grant to promote advanced online math and science coursework. Called Learning Power, the program pays students $100 cash for passing designated Advanced Placement courses in math, science and English. All of the courses are offered via the South Dakota Virtual School.