Nov. 11-17 is American Education Week
American Education Week is coming up this month. This special week recognizes the contributions of the various people who make up the public education system, from teachers to food service workers and counselors to bus drivers, and everyone in between. Thanks for all you do to make sure our state’s children are receiving the best education!

New DOE directors in place
Colleen O’Neil recently began as director of the department’s Division of Curriculum and Career and Technical Education, and Ann Larsen took over as the new director of the Division of Educational Services and Support. A recent transplant from Greeley, Colo., Colleen is a lifelong educator, having served in numerous positions, including teacher, chief learning officer, assistant principal and chief human resource officer. Ann has been with the department for more than 10 years, most recently serving as special education director.

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New system identifies top-performing schools, schools to receive targeted interventions

Twenty-three elementary and middle schools and seven high schools earning top spots under the state’s new accountability system were named last month.

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, this fall. The schools were 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Click here to review data for individual schools, including points earned for the various indicators.