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South Dakota

May 9, 2005
Tag Team Persuades Newell School District To Back Down

Newell School District went into March like a lion and went out like a lamb.

On March 1, the school counselor sent a letter to all homeschool families. The letter incorrectly told them that South Dakota state law required all students in grades 3-8 and 11 to take the Dakota Step tests.

Only students in grades 2, 4, 8, and 11 need to take a standardized test. Furthermore, any nationally-normed standardized achievement test will satisfy this requirement.

HSLDA called the school counselor and explained that her letter misrepresented state law. Refusing to back down, she declared that South Dakota Department of Education officials had told her that homeschoolers were required to take the Dakota Step tests.

Wanting to track the error to its purported source, HSLDA called the South Dakota Department of Education. The official to whom we spoke was shocked to hear that a public school had offered the Dakota Step test to homeschoolers. It is intended to be a closed test offered only to public school students. The official also acknowledged that HSLDA was correct about the required ages for testing.

At our request, the official called the school counselor to correct her misapprehensions. When we next contacted the counselor, she acknowledged her errors and promised to send a correction letter to all affected families.