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Grad Requirement Changes Approved, Districts Wait to Implement

The legislative rules review committee approves changes to South Dakota’s high school graduation requirements with a four to two vote. The changes include three possible endorsements that allow students to tailor their high school classes to their post-high school plans.

While districts may adopt the changes immediately, the Department of Education only requires schools make the endorsement tracks available by 2020. Sioux Falls Superintendent Brian Maher says the state’s largest district plans to operate as usual this year to allow more time to consider the impact of the update. His biggest concerns are how the changes will affect special education as well as the city’s large number of English language learners.

"The state's been very good in working with us and talking through issues and really trying to address concerns," says Maher. "We just want to fully vet that before we do anything different than we're doing today."

Administrators for Rapid City Area Schools have also said their district will wait to implement any changes. Critics of the new graduation requirements say the changes were pushed through without enough stakeholder input, and that the emphasis on workforce development does not necessarily meet the goals of a high school education.