South Dakota

Academic Achievement

Student performance in South Dakota is middling. The state stands around the national average in the percentage of 4th and 8th grade students at or above the proficient level on both the NAEP math and reading exams. 

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

South Dakota earns a low grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Only 10% of African-American 8th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam. 

Return on Investment

Student achievement in South Dakota is very high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

South Dakota posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

South Dakota earns a high grade preparing its students for college and careers. Although only 12 students out of 100 pass an AP exam, students have a relatively high chance of college attendance by age 19.  

21st Century Teacher Force

South Dakota does a weak job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The state does poorly identifying effective teachers and removing ineffective ones.

Parental Options

South Dakota does a very poor job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state is one of only eight in the country with no charter school law, and students have limited access to online learning options.

Data Quality

South Dakota earns a low grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The state does not have policies or funding to support a longitudinal data system, and stakeholders do not have access to key data on student and school performance. 


South Dakota receives an average grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. While the South Dakota Virtual School offers an array of online courses, the state’s funding stream and infrastructure need to be revamped to support more digital providers. 

International Competitiveness

South Dakota earns a high grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with 38% of students proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard.

Fiscal Responsibility

South Dakota receives very high marks on fiscal responsibility. Ninety-three percent of the state’s pension is funded, and its most recent contribution was 99%.