South Dakota Curriculum, Technology, & Assessment
Dakota STEP (State Test of Educational Progress) is the new assessment system for accountability in South Dakota schools. STEP has as its basic platform the new Stanford 10 Abbreviated test. The Stanford 10 Abbreviated test was augmented to fully assess South Dakota Content Standards in Reading and Mathematics as required by No Child Left Behind. Science augmentation will be added before 2007 per NCLB timelines.
Dakota STEP will be given at Grades 3-8 and 11. The augmented Stanford 10 Abbreviated will be un-timed and will yield both norm-referenced and standards-based scores. Subjects that will be assessed by the abbreviated form of the Stanford 10 Abbreviated (norm-referenced) will include Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. Standards that will be assessed by the add-on augmentation are the SD Content Standards in Reading and Mathematics for each grade (2003) plus eventually the SD Content Standards in Science for each grade (by 2007).
DACS Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the rationale for a statewide criterion referenced/standards-based test?
A: The legal answer is state law requires it. SDCL 13-3-55 mandates that every accredited school district, beginning in the spring of 2001-2002 school year, test students in grades 3, 6, & 10 using the criterion referenced test the state provides.
The educational answer is what every educator already knows: schools should test students to assess what they are learning. Good teachers understand the only way to know if there is progress in the classroom is to check for understanding of the subject matter. The state standards are of little value without some form of assessment to determine if students are learning what is required. A criterion referenced/standards-based test also gives educators feedback that can be used to make revisions to improve curriculum.
With more and more emphasis being placed on accountability, the public’s answer to the question is that schools need a means to inform stakeholders about their progress. Current forms of assessment meet part of that objective, but a state criterion referenced test can give schools the information they need to clearly demonstrate what their students know based on SD content standards, not national norms.
Q: How does the test work?
A: Students take the DACS test online through their school’s computer system. Once a school has received a site ID, it can then load the student data and prepare to put students online. Students are then brought to labs or other computer areas to log onto the system and begin taking the tests. Once a test is complete student scores and feedback on their progress is almost instantly presented online. Reports are also available to teachers, principals, and district-level officials for further analysis.
A school or a teacher can have their students log onto the site at www.edperformance.com at any time and take a test. Individual teachers or schools decide how many tests to have their students take during the year. At least two tests are recommended, one in the fall and one in the spring.
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