New K-12 standards adopted in eighth Midwestern state

As the result of a unanimous decision made in November by its Board of Education, South Dakota has become the eighth state in the Midwest to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Stateline Midwest, Volume 19, No. 11- December 2010

As the result of a unanimous decision made in November by its Board of Education, South Dakota has become the eighth state in the Midwest to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

South Dakota’s decision was the latest victory in a national, state-led movement to develop a single set of benchmarks that define the knowledge and skills students should have at different points of their K-12 education careers — regardless of where they live.

The Common Core State Standards— which are benchmarked to international standards and based on model standards already used in some states — apply to English-language arts and mathematics instruction. The goal of the standards is to ensure that high school graduates in all participating states are ready to succeed in college or the workforce.

As of late November, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota were the only three Midwestern states that had not adopted the Common Core.

Earlier this year, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the math portion of Common Core would “water down” his state’s existing rigorous standards, which include a requirement that students take algebra by eighth grade. In contrast, the move in South Dakota will result in more demanding math standards for K-12 students in that state, according to Becky Nelson, a standards expert with the South Dakota Department of Education.

About 80 percent of the U.S. states have now adopted Common Core, an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The Council of State Governments has been at the forefront of educating policymakers on this issue through its Common Core State Standards Policy Initiative, which is funded through an educational grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The goal of the CSG initiative is to inform and educate state legislators as well as K-12 and higher-education policymakers about the Common Core and raise awareness on the implications that the standards have for their state. CSG is also promoting collaboration among state boards of education, state-level departments of instruction, businesses, parents and community leaders.