PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls School District took a position last year on the proposed social-studies standards under consideration by the South Dakota Board of Education Standards. Here are the comments that a district assistant superintendent, Teresa Boysen, submitted to the state Department of Education and were part of a November 18, 2022, report.

“Sioux Falls School District Social Studies Standards Implementation Recommendations Process – Timeline: The Sioux Falls School District believes student learning is facilitated most effectively through a standard written, taught, and assessed curriculum. The guaranteed and viable curriculum provides the foundation for teachers to develop and deliver engaging and effective lessons using research-based instructional practices. Development and review of the existing and proposed curriculum follow the District’s Curriculum Revision Cycle. The cycle is based on the South Dakota Standards Revision and Adoption Timeline utilized by the South Dakota Board of Education and specifies the time frame in which the curriculum is studied, developed, adopted, and implemented. 

“The SFSD curriculum revision process includes a K12 Steering Committee and Instructional Level Subcommittees that require two years to complete the three prongs included in a comprehensive curriculum adoption: curriculum selection, professional development, and assessment development and alignment. The analysis of the draft standards indicates that a significant amount of time and resources will be necessary to implement the standards as intended at all grade levels. Therefore, the Sioux Falls School District requests consideration of the following recommendations: 

“1. Provide districts with a three-year implementation timeline to develop a guaranteed and viable written curriculum that is actionable in the classroom. The written curriculum is subject-specific, guided by a philosophy statement, aligned with state standards, and includes formative and summative assessments and professional development for staff to ensure the curriculum is implemented as intended. Acknowledging the extent of the content and ability of districts to access quality Materials, recommending a transition period for implementing the social studies standards. Three-year comprehensive curriculum adoption starting fall 2023 – Year one – unpacking the standards and writing clear learning targets and proficiency scales – Years two and three – write curriculum, summative assessments, and provide professional development and work with publishers to find quality resources aligned with standards – Classroom teachers develop essential/pacing guides to ensure vertical alignment, and instructional resources are chosen to support the diverse learning needs of all students, including SPED, English Learners, and Spanish Immersion programs. (Trans Adaptive materials are required to accommodate instruction in the immersion language) Elementary (implementation – fall 2026) Middle School (implementation – fall 2027) High School (implementation – fall 2028) 

“2. Increase Anticipated Implementation Funding – Costs of Developing/Adopting/Refining the Social Studies Curriculum: The SFSD prides itself on providing instruction to students through standards-based teaching and learning. The steps necessary to create this environment for teachers and students take years to refine. When standards are adopted off-cycle, the revisions and adjustments needed throughout the curriculum involve instructional methods, assessments, and intervention designs. However, when a new set of standards is adopted, these systems are redesigned from scratch. – The analysis of the proposed standards indicates that a significant amount of time and resources will be necessary to implement the standards as intended at all grade levels. – The proposed social studies standards will require teams of teachers to work together to align resources and write curriculum pacing guides and assessments. Curriculum alignment across the content areas will also be required. 

“The anticipated implementation cost for SFSD reflects an estimate as the proposed Social Studies standards are drastically different from the current standards and will require multiple resources at all levels, including professional development for staff. The funding request from the Sioux Falls School District is $3,410,626. The SFSD recommends that the State Board of Education Standards make specific recommendations to the South Dakota Legislature for increasing school district funding for all school districts to support the scope of full implementation of the proposed Social Studies Standards. 

“Other Impacts of the Proposed Social Studies Standards — South Dakota History and Agriculture Education: The previous standards, at selected grade levels, were designated to have the opportunity to take a deep dive into South Dakota history and production agriculture. Staff members utilized local and state resources, such as SD Road Map, books written by local authors, field trips, and county and state officials, to develop a rich learning experience for students. These moments in time have provided a real-life experience for students to research and analyze the impact of past and present environmental, economic, and cultural issues experienced by the people of South Dakota. 

“The standards, as currently proposed, move South Dakota History across all grade levels K 12. By dividing and disseminating the standards across the grade levels, we are compromising the rigor of learning expected of our students at any grade level and making integrating learning across other core curriculum areas more challenging. The impact of spreading SD History across the grade levels creates additional costs and limits field trip opportunities to local historical sites. 

“College and Career Readiness Advanced Placement and Dual Credit courses prepare students for success at the post-secondary level.  AP U.S. History course requires students to analyze primary and secondary sources, develop historical arguments, and utilize reasoning about comparison, causation, continuity, and change. AP Government students cultivate their understanding of U.S. government and politics through analysis of data and text-based sources as they explore topics like constitutionalism, liberty, and order, civic participation in a representative democracy, competing for policy-making interests, and methods of political analysis. 

“At the university level, students in history are expected to develop reading, writing, research, and critical thinking skills and explore past and contemporary human experiences. Historical study is more than memorizing dates and battles in the Civil War or remembering who was president in 1897. However, immersion in ideas, the complexity of human behavior, and lessons learned from each situation. 

“The ripple effects of these proposed standards could be far-reaching for high school students who plan to attend postsecondary because the proposed standards do not require students to engage in higher-level thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating, and investigating. The world is changing quickly, and as educators, our job is to prepare students for the real world, which requires critical thinking. The ability to think critically and apply knowledge is essential to a future innovative workforce that South Dakota needs to continue to grow economically.”