PIERRE, S.D. — State lawmakers postponed taking action on the South Dakota Department of Education’s revised performance management metrics plan, citing that the plan would need to include more quantifiable measurements before it could be approved.

Department of Education Secretary Ben Jones presented the plan to the Government Operations and Audit Committee during a meeting Monday, Jan. 13.

Jones’ plan aims to maximize and build relationships by increasing the percentage of accredited school districts, measuring collaborations with colleges and tribal education officials, education research and policy institutions.

The plan also includes expanding the number of districts that are accessing underutilized state-provided resources and shared services, completing and issuing reports for all uncontested special education complaints within 60 days, accurately calculating and distributing state aid, measuring the number of districts that adopt knowledge-rich curriculum aligned to state standards and maintaining an employee turnover rate that is not more than the state average of 14.5 percent.

During a previous meeting on Nov. 18, 2019, District 28 state Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, explained that the GOAC didn't approve the department’s performance metrics, which have been evaluated in the same way the past several years with the results getting "worse and worse and worse."

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The plan’s goal of decreasing the number of uncertified educators by 50 percent was met with concern from District 10 state Rep. Steven Haugaard.

Of the 9,700 certified teachers across the state, around 100 are uncertified. Most uncertified teachers are those who are career and education teachers, Jones explained.

Haugaard questioned whether some welders or mechanics with expertise in their field may be discouraged from working in classrooms if they knew they’d have to take the required credits to earn a teaching certificate.

“This measurement is really about making sure we have quality educators in front of our kids,” Jones said.

Jones explained how the measurement would specifically target schools that have a disproportionately high number of uncertified teachers.

District 4 state Rep. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, admitted that some of the measurements were “a little bit vague” but noted that he would like to see the plan performance metrics approved sooner rather than later.

“When you’re sitting with your board of directors and they say increase sales by a certain percent, they don’t tell their manager how to do it; they tell them to get it done,” Wiik said.

District 13 state Rep. Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls, said the outline needs more numbers and quantifiable measurements, just like the committee has required from all other state agencies.

The committee approved a motion to postpone action for 90 days to give Jones time to refine the performance metric measurements and include quantifiable measurements.