South Dakota STEP Test Prep

Practical Tips on How to Improve Your Child's Performance

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Curriculum Uses
Standardized Tests

South Dakota STEP Test Prep

Dakota State Test of Educational Progress

About South Dakota’s Standardized Tests for 3rd Grade – High School

Are your kids preparing for the Dakota State Test of Educational Progress, known as Dakota Step? Dakota STEP testing measures the progress of students from 3rd grade to 8th grade, and 11th grade. Dakota STEP test results provide actionable data that will help parents, teachers, and students improve academic performance in reading, math, and science. South Dakota testing is also used in evaluating each school’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Time4Learning and Time4Writing—two online services that teach many of the South Dakota assessment skills—provide this page to support your research on the best ways to help your kids with Dakota STEP practice and test prep.

Dakota STEP Tests at a Glance

The Dakota State Test of Educational Progress incorporates questions from the Stanford 10 (SAT-10), a national norm-referenced test, along with questions aligned to South Dakota state standards. The annual Dakota STEP tests are administered as follows:

  • All students in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th grades take Dakota STEP tests in reading and math
  • Fifth, eighth, and eleventh graders take the science Dakota STEP test

In addition, The Dakota Writing Assessment is given every year to students in 5th, 7th, and 10th grades.

How Dakota STEP Tests Are Scored
Dakota STEP tests results are reported two ways. First, Dakota STEP results show how well students have mastered each subject, based on the following four levels: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced.

In the norm-referenced portion of Dakota STEP, students receive a percentile rank, which denotes how well they performed in comparison to peers in other states. For example, if the rank is 45, the student scored as well or better than 45% of students who took the test across the country.

The Dakota Writing Assessment measures students’ writing ability in six areas: Ideas and Development; Organization, Unity, and Coherence; Word Choice; Sentences and Paragraphs; Grammar and Usage; and Mechanics. South Dakota writing tests are scored on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the highest.

Other South Dakota Standardized Tests

South Dakota uses a balanced range of assessments to promote learning for all students. The South Dakota STEP-Alternate (Dakota STEP-A) and Writing Alternate are designed to measure the progress of students with severe disabilities who require special accommodations. Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) take the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment, which measures their progress in English language acquisition.

South Dakota End-of-Course Exams
South Dakota testing also includes end-of-course exams, starting in 9th grade. Exams have been developed for all major courses, including algebra I and II, biology, geography, physical science, and world history.

NAEP in South Dakota
South Dakota also participates annually in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, where a sampling of students (from grades 4, 8, and/or 12) are tested in several content areas as part of a nationally representative assessment of student performance.

Preparing for the South Dakota STEP

For general tips on test preparation, please visit our standardized test overview page.
The real preparation for the Dakota STEP tests, or any standardized test, begins with your commitment to your children’s education throughout their school years. Devote time and effort to helping your children learn. Start by making sure your kids do their homework and read every day. Many families also employ tutors or an online learning program, such as Time4Learning, to build fundamental skills.

When preparing for standardized tests, students often benefit from test prep programs and books, which offer guidance and practice with test formats, time restrictions, test-taking strategies (when to guess, when not to), and different types of questions. For instance, when a reading passage is followed by comprehension questions, many test prep programs teach students to scan the questions first in order to know what areas of the passage require close reading. Time4Learning is not a test prep program, it is a program that builds the skills that will be tested.

Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today’s technology. It’s a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.

The online language arts and math curriculum comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.

Time4Writing provides highly effective, 8-week writing courses online that help elementary, middle and high school students build writing skills through one-on-one interaction with a certified teacher.

Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. Time4Learning’s educational teaching games give students independence as they progress at their own pace.

Parents like that it tracks progress and helps kids advance by teaching through individualized learning paths that assure mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed.

Have a child with math and language arts skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.

Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, risk free!

For more information and resources on South Dakota Education, visit:
South Dakota Department of Education
South Dakota Homeschooling Information