New accountability school plan makes college and career readiness a focusPIERRE — College and career readiness will become an increasingly important factor in judging performance of South Dakota public high schools under the new accountability system approved by the state Board of Education.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — College and career readiness will become an increasingly important factor in judging performance of South Dakota public high schools under the new accountability system approved by the state Board of Education.
The board agreed to eliminate one of the proposed methods of measurement, the percentage of students who take the ACT, which had been proposed by the state Education Department.
Perhaps more significantly, the board added a new requirement that the department identify and develop by the 2014-2015 school year a method for determining career readiness.
Board members said the ACT is one measure of college readiness but didn’t necessarily have a direct bearing on career readiness.
The two moves Thursday greatly shifted the direction that had been proposed by state Education Secretary Melody Schopp, her staff and the various teams of advisers who had helped Schopp’s department develop the new system.
State board members decided the ACT-taking measurement was unfair. They noted that students must pay to take the ACT.
They also pointed out that while the ACT is a common requirement for admittance to state universities and increasingly is used at technical institutes, the ACT isn’t necessary to attend tribal colleges in South Dakota.
Board member Stacy Phelps of Rapid City stumped Schopp and her aides when he asked, twice, a fundamental question: What happens under the new performance-scoring system if no students at a school take the ACT?
Two pieces of the ACT measurement portion of the scoring system remain intact: The percentage of students whose ACT sub-scores meet the minimums of 20 for math and 18 for reading.
As originally proposed, a school’s score in the college and career readiness criteria would have been determined solely on ACT participation and results.
One-half of the readiness score was to be based on percentage of students who take the ACT.
The board voted unanimously Thursday to remove that provision.
The rest of the readiness score was to be based on performance. One-quarter of the score was to reflect percentage of students whose ACT math scores are 20 or above. One-quarter of the score was to reflect percentage of students whose ACT English scores are 18 or above.
For the next two years, those ACT scores will be the only measurement for college and career readiness.