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South Dakota

October 4, 2013

School Drops Science Test Requirement After HSLDA Intervenes


Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in South Dakota. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

The Waubay School District sent a letter to area homeschool families telling them that their 8th and 11th graders must be tested in the area of science. It also said that any test the parents administer to satisfy the testing requirements for grades 2, 4, 8 and 11 must be approved by the South Dakota Department of Education.

The letter asked families to respond by October 11 and tell the school system what test they planned to use if not electing to participate in the SAT 10 administered by the school system.

An alert homeschool mom recognized that the letter was off-base and contacted HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff for help.

What the Law Says

Under the first paragraph of South Dakota statute 13-27-3, homeschool families are only required to teach “the basic skills of language arts and math.” When the second paragraph of that statute says families must test in “the basic skills,” it is cross-referencing the basic skills of language arts and math which are referred to in the first paragraph. Homeschoolers in grades 2, 4, 8 and 11 are not required to be tested on any subject other than language arts and math.

South Dakota statute 13-27-3 allows parents to use any “nationally standardized achievement test chosen by the parent.” Contrary to what the author asserted in the letter, families do not need to obtain the approval of the Department of Education when choosing a test. And although the letter asked families to notify of the school system of their choice of test, South Dakota law does not require this of families.

Woodruff called the author, who is new at her post with the school, and asked her to send a letter of correction. She quickly agreed.

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