Proposed changes to South Dakota’s high school graduation requirements are now open for public comment. The total number of credits are the same, but the changes could provide students more flexibility and additional opportunities for post-high school credentials.
South Dakota Secretary of Education Don Kirkegaard says the state hasn’t altered its graduation requirements in ten years. He says the proposed adjustments give students a chance to tailor their classes to what they want to do after high school. For instance, current standards require Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.
“The new requirements will say you have to have three credits of math. Algebra I is a requirement. The other two are up to the individual as well as through what the school may and may not offer,” he says.
Kirkegaard says three new course paths—or endorsements—also help students ensure they have the appropriate credentials for their next step in life. For instance, The Advanced Career Endorsement calls for at least two approved career and technical education classes or a workforce experience course.
The secretary says opportunities to fulfill these proposed endorsements are available to all students, though more rural schools may have to think outside the box.
"Because it doesn’t have to be a 3M or Larson Manufacturing to be a valuable work experience," he says. "It might be the local lumberyard, the business downtown, ag related business. We think there are opportunities for students in every school to take advantage. Some will have to be more creative than others, but the opportunity will exist for every school.”
The Advanced Endorsement aligns with the Board of Regents’ basic college admission requirements, and the Advanced Honors Endorsement includes more rigorous coursework need to qualify for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed changes by visiting rules.sd.gov. The deadline for written comments is July 12th.
A public hearing on the changes is on July 16th during the Board of Education Standards meeting in Pierre.