The South Dakota Board of Education adopted the Common Core Standards in November 2010. A three year plan was implemented to manage the transition, with the 2014-2015 school year being the first fully under Common Core.
What are the standards?
From the Common Core factsheet:
Common Core Standards were developed at the state level, with governors and chief educators in the 45 participating states working with parents, teachers, and researchers. The result was a set of standards that promote a deeper understanding of the material. Students are given more opportunities to apply what they learn to real-world situations. Emphasis is placed on understanding, rather than memorization and test-taking.
The standards are not a curriculum (books and instructions, which are left to the discretion of local schools). What they do is establish benchmarks students at a grade level are expected to meet, in Math and English Language Arts. For example, a first grader would be expected to "describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details." A fifth grader would be expected to "Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact)."
Why use the standards?
Common Core is intended to better prepare students for college or work. A comparison of current South Dakota standards and Common Core found the Common Core standards clearer and more rigorous. Additionally, with 45 states participating, Common Core makes it easier for students moving to a new state; a 4th grader in California is expected to be studying the same topics as one in South Dakota. The states are also able to work together in creating tests, which is expected to save South Dakota money.
Although the Common Core Standards are supported by Governor Dennis Daugaard and the Department of Education, legislators have found cause to oppose them. Chief opponent is Representative Jim Bolin, a former teacher. In 2011 he tried to block Common Core standards for history; although there are no history standards, a bill passed the House that would have prevented any history standards from Common Core (the bill died in Senate committee). In 2012, he had legislation passed requiring public hearings before the adoption of Common Core. Adoption of Common Core standards would have required legislative approval with a 2013 bill, but it also died in Senate committee.
In the 2014 Legislative session, opposition came from the Senate. Three bills, SB 62, 63, and 64, were all concerned with Common Core. SB 62 would have established a committee to study Common Core and compare with past standards, but it failed in the Senate. SB 63, concerning student privacy, and SB 64, calling for a waiting period and public input before adopting any new standards, both passed the Senate and House, and were signed into law by the governor.
In 2015, legislators wanted to call for a special legislative session to discuss Common Core standards and a possible return to pre-Core curriculum, but Governor Daugaard wanted to wait to see the results of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students that had been organized in February. Ultimately, the Task Force did not make any recommendations on the Common Core standards.
Archive of news stories and information on Common Core
Magazine and Journal Articles
Find articles on common core and its success and challenges in other states. You will need a Rapid City Public Library card (Get a library card) to search.