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South Dakota

South Dakota has implemented several literacy policies aimed at improving reading proficiency among its students. The state's approach to literacy education focuses on evidence-based instruction, early intervention, and support for struggling readers. One key policy is the South Dakota State Standards for English Language Arts, which outlines the skills and knowledge that students need to develop in order to be successful readers, including phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

South Dakota provides training and support for educators in evidence-based literacy practices, such as balanced literacy instruction, explicit instruction in foundational skills, and the use of data to inform instruction. The state has established the South Dakota Department of Education's Office of Curriculum and Instruction to provide guidance and support to educators and promote evidence-based literacy practices.

South Dakota uses a statewide assessment, the South Dakota Statewide Assessment (SDSA), to monitor student progress in reading and identify areas where additional support is needed. The state's Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework provides a systematic approach to identifying and supporting struggling readers, with tiered levels of intervention based on student needs.

The South Dakota Department of Education also partners with local organizations and agencies to promote literacy development through initiatives such as the South Dakota Reading First program and the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines. These programs aim to support literacy development among students and families, particularly those in low-income communities. Additionally, the state has established the South Dakota Birth to 3 Program, which focuses on promoting early literacy development among young children in the state.

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South Dakota Student Score Gaps:

  • This represents a decline from the 2019 percentage of 4th grade students not reading at the proficient level which was 64%.

  • Data are not reported of Black students in 2022, because reporting standards were not met.

  • In 2022, Hispanic students had an average score that was 18 points lower than that of White students. Data was not reported for Hispanic students in 2003, because reporting standards were not met.

  • In 2022, male students in South Dakota had an average score that was lower than that of female students by 11 points.

  • In 2022, students who were eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) had an average score that was 28 points lower than that for students who were not eligible. This performance gap was wider than that in 2003 (20 points).

Information from the  NAEP website for 2022 4th grade reading scores.




These organizations are committed to promoting evidence-based reading practices, providing professional development opportunities for educators, and supporting students in developing strong reading skills.

South Dakota Department of Education

South Dakota Reading Council

South Dakota Council of Teachers of English

The International Dyslexia Association - South Dakota Branch

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