Students across South Dakota need to start meeting new standards, and the changes are raising some questions.
Some are calling the Common Core State Standards beneficial; others say they’re dangerous.
The McLaughlin School District sees a lot of students transferring either to or from it, sometimes across state lines.
"Our mobility rate is high," Middle and High School Principal Tim Thompson said. "So when they go to a different school, when they go here, there and everywhere, the Common Core helps provide that consistency that we know they're teaching the same thing that we're teaching."
The district has a history of low test scores. Administrators are optimistic the Common Core standards will help improve them.
The school also sees a lot of teacher turnover and often needs to recruit nation-wide. Since most states have adopted the standards, McLaughlin will have more consistent classrooms, administrators say.
"They come in, they've had experience teaching maybe in Phoenix, AZ but they know the Common Core. So they come in ready to teach our kids the knowledge that we need them to have," Elementary Principal Angie Thunker said.
But across the country and here in South Dakota, some people are concerned about the standards. Some state legislators are among them.
"I'm hearing quite a bit from the public, especially in my district. We've got a number of people that have been involved in South Dakotans Against Common Core," Rep. Jim Stalzer said.
While some say the new standards add rigor, Stalzer isn't convinced that's always true. The Sioux Falls Republican is also concerned the standards infringe on local control and he'd like to see more proof that they’re effective.
"We have dropped a whole new program that was never piloted on every grade all at once. A fifth grader doesn't have the foundation that comes from kindergarten on up," Stalzer said.
South Dakota’s Education Secretary Melody Schopp says new standards always come with challenges but the Common Core standards have been thought out and took years to develop.
As that debate continues, the McLaughlin School hopes to see positive results within its walls.
Stalzer also has concerns with content such as evolution included in science standards shared among states. But Schopp says the state was involved in the science standards discussion but has decided not to adopt them because they are not right for South Dakota.