Area schools identified as priority, focus

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– Katie Zerr –

Area schools districts have been mentioned in a report identifying the top performers and those that don’t perform well based on the South Dakota’s new accountability system.

Schools in this area that were identified as in the 5 percent of the state’s schools based on School Performance Index scores are Herreid Elementary, Herreid School District, Gettysburg Junior High and Gettysburg High School.

Schools are identified, in most cases, based on their scores on the new School Performance Index, or SPI, a 100-point index that encompasses key indicators that measure school performance.

Schools in the area that have been identified as focus schools in the state are Freeman Davis Elementary and the Mobridge-Pollock Upper Elementary schools.

These are the schools that fall in the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools based on key indicators of historically underperforming student groups.

At the lower end of the spectrum are schools whose SPI scores rank among the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools. Under the new accountability system, these schools are considered “priority” schools.

The Department of Education also has identified “focus” schools, a classification that applies only to Title I schools and considers the performance of historically underperforming student groups.

As part of the new accountability system, the department will work with priority and focus schools to implement meaningful interventions designed to improve student outcomes. At the elementary and middle school level, those SPI key indicators include student achievement in math and reading on the state assessment and attendance rates. At the high school level, those SPI key indicators include student achievement in math and reading on the state assessment, four-year cohort graduation rate, and ACT scores in English and math.

At the October meeting of the Mobridge-Pollock School District Board of Education, the district’s principals explained plans that will target students that are not performing well based on data gathered by the district’s staff. These groups will receive instruction developed using the South Dakota standards and the Common Core standards to work as a team to strengthen these areas and to develop a measurable benchmark to show progress in these areas. The staff researched reasons for the lower SPI indictors created strategies to be used to improve the student’s achievements.

“As a school district we have made great strides in the past few years of meeting individual needs of the students,” said Mobridge Pollock Superintendent Tim Frederick. “With this being said, we will need to continue to work at identifying strategies that meet the unique needs of a student body that has much diversity.”

He went on to say that one of the key contributing factors as to why Freeman Davis and Upper Elementary have been identified as a focus school is attendance.

“As a school district, it is imperative that we do more to promote exemplary attendance,” he said. “It is also crucial that parents understand that we can not meet the individual needs of students if they do not get their child to school.  All the strategies and new programs in the world won’t work if the child is not in school each and every day. “

Twenty-three elementary and middle schools and seven high schools have earned top spots under the state’s new accountability system.

As part of South Dakota’s waiver from No Child Left Behind, the state was required to identify the top 5 percent of public schools, as well as the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools.

At the elementary and middle school level, 82 percent of schools earned at least 70 out of the 100 points possible. And at the high school level, 71 percent of schools earned at least 70 out of the 100 points. It is at the 70 mark that SPI scores begin to drop rapidly.

Priority schools (bottom 5 percent of Title I schools based on School Performance Index scores) in this area are Wakpala Elementary, and McLaughlin High School.

Other focus schools (bottom 10 percent of Title I schools based on key indicators of historically underperforming student groups) are Cheyenne Eagle Butte Upper Elementary, Eagle Butte Elementary, Dupree Junior High, McLaughlin Elementary and McLaughlin Middle School.

This is a transitional year for the new accountability system. Additional indicators, including academic growth, will be added to the School Performance Index by the 2014-15 school year. Once fully implemented, the department plans to use three years of data for most of the SPI key indicators. This current calculation is based upon only one year of data.

Data for individual schools, including points earned for the various indicators, can be accessed at doe.sd.gov/secretary/spi.aspx .



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