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Driver education courses getting a state review

PIERRE — Two state government departments are taking a look at driver education courses across South Dakota.

A retired Rapid City police captain, Richard Grant, will be paid up to $45,000 over 18 months for reviewing content and methods and for analyzing accidents and violations.

Information also will be gathered on the amounts charged for instruction.

The Department of Public Safety is paying for the work and will provide results to the Department of Education.

Northern State University at Aberdeen and Black Hills State University at Spearfish are the only institutions where college training is available for instructors, according to Education Secretary Melody Schopp.

She briefed members of the state Board of Education about the project during their recent meeting.

Schopp said Wednesday the findings could help determine if changes need to be made in training for instructors and could make more good information available to school district officials.

"Since the state does not recommend or dictate curriculum, it will still be incumbent on districts to make those decisions, but perhaps this will provide lists of resources to choose from," she said.

The study will look at the course content used by instructors, including uniformity and consistency, according to Terry Woster, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

He said some of that work would include classroom visits and the consultant also will research effective curriculum.

Driving records will be compared for students who have taken driver education courses and students who haven't.

The information will be summarized in a report.