Ruling on New Evaluations Delayed by S. Dakota Legislators

The Legislature and the state’s governors have been in a long-running fight over funding levels for school districts.

A new standard for evaluating teachers has been put on hold after state legislators told South Dakota Department of Education officials Tuesday that they failed to provide enough information, writes Megan Luther at the Argus Leader.

The department asked the six-member legislative rules committee to adopt a professional teachers rule that would set statewide standards for teacher performance and evaluation.

The agency only provided legislators a paragraph of information about the evaluation program, said Sen. Angie Buhl, D-Sioux Falls. Typically, agencies provide several pages or a report when requesting an administrative rule change.

Legislators have voted to defer the issue another month, citing lack of information.

This comes as the South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the state’s system for funding school districts, rejecting the schools’ arguments that the current arrangement does not provide enough money to assure students of an adequate education, writes the Associated Press at the Argus Leader.

The lawsuit sought a court ruling that the South Dakota Constitution entitles all children to a free adequate and quality public education and that the present funding system is unconstitutional because it does not provide all children with that, writes the Associated Press.

“We hold that the South Dakota Constitution guarantees all South Dakota children a free, adequate and quality public education which provides them with the opportunity to prepare for their future roles as citizens, participants in the political system, and competitors both economically and intellectually,” Meierhenry wrote for the court.

However, the high court said the lawsuit failed to show a firm connection between spending and student achievement on test scores.

The deferral of the new standard means if the rule change is approved, it won’t take effect for another 20 days. It’s unclear what effect the delay will have on the program.

Deb Barnett, director of accreditation and teacher quality, told legislators training was expected to start in September, with pilot sites chosen for the model evaluation.

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September 2nd, 2011

Staff Reporter

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