As students head back to class, schools across South Dakota are preparing to implement the new Common Core State Standards.
The standards specify what students are expected to know at each grade level. Several states across the country have adopted the standards. The South Dakota Board of Education did so November 2010.
The state plans to assess students using the Common Core Standards this spring, but schools won't be held accountable for the assessments until tests taken during the 2014-15 school year.
More than 500 educators attended a training hosted by Northern State University in Aberdeen Friday. That’s one way they’re getting ready for the change.
"We still have a lot of preparing to do but we're well on our way. We've taken courses the last two summers," Langford teacher Susan Larson said.
In Aberdeen, assistant superintendent Becky Guffin and others have worked to prepare teachers by training within the district and from the state.
"We're looking at making sure the teachers have a very clear understanding of what the standards are saying, what the expectations are for students and that they're very aware of how this could impact the classrooms," Guffin said.
Guffin is optimistic Aberdeen teachers are ready. Sen. Chuck Welke (D-Warner) attended Friday’s session.
"Well, I think there will probably be some hiccups and challenges, but I think that schools have been working very hard to try and get ready so I'm confident they'll be ready," Sen. Chuck Welke of Warner said.
Langford teacher Susan Larson says she's still putting together lesson plans and figuring out which parts of her curriculum from previous years can carry over to future years.
"And how that's going to change and where everything's going to fit in," Larson said.
Welke says he's hearing from some who oppose the Common Core State Standards but also supporters who say they've put in a lot of work preparing and don’t want to see the state change its mind.
Either way, educators are getting ready as assessment for the standards approach.