A 2013 report from an organization trying to boost education in America shows South Dakota does not make the grade when it comes to the classroom. According to studentsfirst.org, the state received an F for education policies.
Recently "Education Week" magazine gave South Dakota a D+, and ranked us dead last when it comes to our schools.
When you look at District-wide test scores, one in five students cannot read at a level that is expected for their grade level. That number is one in three for high school juniors. This is despite the district's goal for every student to be reading proficient.
Officials with the Excel Achievement, a facility in Sioux Falls that provides tutoring options for students and adults, say they have a solution.
"Children who struggle to read, there are really only three reasons why that would be. The key is to identify that reason and once you do that and apply the right curriculum to that issue, you can easily get them to read," Stephanie Spaan, owner, said.
Spaan referred to the Lindamood-Bell Model. It is a comprehension chart that puts the ways students process information into three groups: Auditory, Visual and Language. Spaan said it helps teachers recognize how each individual student processes reading, based on whether they have trouble sounding out words, seeing every word on the page correctly, or remembering what they have read.
"What's happening is children are using the wrong part of their brain," Spaan said. Using this model, Spaan said teachers can coach students and help them read.
"MRI's show you literally can re-wire the brain at any age," Spaan said.
Though she praises the Sioux Falls School District and teachers, she would like Sioux Falls and other districts to collaborate with Excel to improve training, and increase reading proficiency.
"Literacy is so important, but we have to do it correctly, otherwise what we're doing is frustrating these kids. If you use the wrong intervention, then that child feels like it's just one more thing that isn't helping," Spaan said.
Sioux Falls School District officials were unable to do an on-camera interview with KELOLAND News on Friday, though it did send this statement: "The District has resources in place for struggling readers, but currently the District does not have the capacity within the programs to serve all students needing reading interventions."
Excel's services could cost the district money, as it is a tutoring facility. Spaan said Excel would be willing to work with the district.