South Dakota Schools Adopt Online Assessment Platform for Science Aptitude

The South Dakota Department of Education will administer online versions of its Dakota State Test of Education Progress (DSTEP) science assessments to three grade levels this spring using a new platform.

The DSTEP and DSTEP-A (alternative) assessments, required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act and South Dakota state law, are given to students in grades 5, 8 and 11 with significant cognitive disabilities each year in reading, math and science.

The state decided to adopt a platform from Questar Assessment, which will administer the science portion of the assessments for the next three years, beginning this coming March and April.

The educational assessment provider's Web-based platform has a large bank of items designed to accommodate students with special needs and technology-enhanced items that the company says will provide an equitable testing experience for the 30,000 South Dakota students who take the test each year.

The assessment is not used by educators to make grade promotion or high school graduation decisions. Instead, the DSTEP and DSTEP-A are intended to help educators, students and parents evaluate students' academic achievement and mastery of South Dakota's academic content standards.

The Minnesota-based Questar Assessment provides online assessment tools to public and private K-12 schools in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

"Now we look forward to providing South Dakota's students and educators an exceptional assessment experience," said Questar Assessment President and CEO Jamie Post Candee.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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