October 28, 2008
The Honorable Rick Melmer
Secretary of Education
South Dakota Department of Education
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, South Dakota 57501-2291
Dear Secretary Melmer:
I am pleased to approve South Dakota's standards and assessment system under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). I congratulate you on meeting this important NCLB requirement.
My decision is based on input from peer reviewers external to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) and Department staff who reviewed and carefully considered the evidence submitted by South Dakota. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that South Dakota's standards and assessment system satisfies the NCLB requirements. Specifically, South Dakota's system includes academic content standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science; student academic achievement standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in reading/language arts and mathematics; and assessments and alternate assessments in each of grades 3 through 8 and one grade in high school for reading/language arts and mathematics. Accordingly, South Dakota's system warrants Full Approval. This status means that South Dakota's standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements for reading/language arts and mathematics. As noted in my July 16, 2008, letter, South Dakota's standards and assessment system has not met all statutory and regulatory requirements for science.
Please be aware that approval of South Dakota's standards and assessment system under NCLB is not a determination that the system complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Finally, please remember that if South Dakota makes significant changes to its standards and assessment system, the State must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval.
We have found it a pleasure working with your staff on this review. Please accept my congratulations for South Dakota's approved standards and assessment system under NCLB. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in South Dakota.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Mike Rounds