School districts across South Dakota can now go online and see final results of the Dakota STEP tests taken last spring.
Publishing the report is a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
While individual student Dakota STEP Test results were mailed to homes over the summer, district and statewide results are now available too.
The Sioux Falls School District analyzes the data for long-term trends. But coordinator Ann Smith says Dakota STEP Tests are like many others, a snapshot of how that student is performing that day. So the district relies more on student progress throughout the school year.
"It's something we call formative assessment, where you're looking at, 'I know this is where I need my kids to be at the end of the year and if I'm going to get them there along the way, I need to know they can do this, this, this. And can they do that,'" Sioux Falls School District Federal Programs Coordinator Ann Smith said.
Alan Carlson has two daughters in Patrick Henry Middle School. While he says they always test well, he still isn't convinced standardized tests are fair for all students.
"I'm not a big fan of pigeon-holing kids. Each one of my kids are different. For public education to come up with some kind of standard measurement, it kind of goes in the face of what human beings are all about," Carlson said.
Parents and administrators agree the Dakota STEP Test isn't the be-all-end-all of results. However, it is one more point of data in your student's overall achievement.
The test score rates a student’s level of performance as advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. Sometimes these scores are used to place students in more appropriate math, reading and science classes the next school year.
But Smith says it’s not the only factor in the decision. She likes to see parents aware of their children's scores but hopes parents are more involved and place higher value on day to day progress.
"I think the report card they get from their classroom teacher every quarter gives them a lot better sense of how their student are doing and progressing," Smith said.
You can see the full STEP results for your district by clicking on the “Report Card” section of the South Dakota Department of Education’s website.