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Throughout the school years, students in South Dakota must participate in statewide standardized testing. The results from these assessments are used to strengthen the educational process and make sure that students are being taught to and reaching proficiency levels in core subjects.
Students begin taking standardized assessments in grade 3. They continue to test until grade 8 and then again during high school. During grades 3-8, the State Test of Educational Progress (STEP) assessments are conducted in Reading and Mathematics. Students in grades 5, 8 and 11 take the State Test of Educational Progress (STEP) in Science. In grades 5, 7 and 10 students also take a computer-based assessment in Writing.
The State Test of Educational Progress (STEP) assessments that are given to students in grades 3-8 and 11 are all multiple-choice examinations. The tests are given over a time period of 4.5 to 6.75 hours, the time runs longer for older students. These assessments are scheduled to be given in the Spring, and the districts will provide detailed scheduling information.
By state law, all students are also required to take a writing assessment. South Dakota uses an online formative assessment that provides instant feedback and results for students and teachers. Students in grades 5, 7 and 10 take this computer-based assessment.
The Dakota State Test of Educational Progress (STEP) assessments are aligned to the frameworks of the statewide curriculum and the Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards oversee the subjects of math and English/Language Arts; they have been adopted by many states and are designed to prepare students for college and career readiness.