K-12 State Accreditation
On March 22, 2005, the South Dakota Board of Education approved new administrative rules for District Accreditation and Improvement. Administrative Rules 24:43 outline the process for required school improvement plans for all public and private school districts that wish to maintain or seek state accreditation.
The accreditation process also includes the requirement for a review of each district, in 5-year cycles ARSD 24:43:02:05. The purpose of the review is not only regulatory but also intended to aid schools in the constant school improvement process. Requirements for the review can be found in ARSD 24:43:02:06. All currently accredited schools and districts must host a review for accreditation. If a district is currently accredited by an external accrediting agency, such as AdvancEd, the district must still host a visit from the State.
Failure to comply with these regulations may result in action by the secretary of education as outlined by Chapter 24:43:07.
Proper documentation of compliance with all applicable state laws and administrative rules should be available upon request in accordance with ARSD 24:43:02:06.
SCHOOL DISTRICT VERIFICATION
- Notification for Public School Exemption
(Home School Certificate)
Parents/guardians who currently provide alternative instruction, or who wish to begin providing alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 are required to file a Notification for Public School Exemption Certificate, annually. Further, the district is required to provide a copy of the exemption form to the state office, and the home school setting, pursuant to SDCL 13-27-9.
Accredited public school districts must maintain accurate exempt student enrollment data pursuant to SDCL 13-3-51.
- Student Certified Birth Verification are on file for all K-12 students. Authorized by SDCL 13-27-3.1.
For each student enrolled, districts must verify the certified birth certificate as issued by the Department of Health within 30 days of enrollment. Districts must then keep on file a copy of the certified birth certificate.
Hospital-issued certificates are not official records and do not meet the standard of the statute. A certified copy of a birth certificate can be obtained by contacting the Vital Records office at the SD Department of Health.
- Student Immunization Verification shall be updated and on file for all students. Authorized by SDCL 13-28-7.1.
Immunization records do not have to be a part of the student's cumulative file if they are normally kept in another file in the school. For example, some districts keep their student's immunization records in the nurse's office. For an onsite visit, though, the Department representative will need to have access to all records in an efficient manner. If the district keeps their immunization records in another building outside of the school districts, please make arrangements to allow the accreditation officer to review those records.
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, meningitis was added to the list of required vaccinations. All sixth graders must have this immunization in place to meet the new statute requirements. Details: http://doh.sd.gov/family/childhood/immunization/MiddleSchool.aspx.
- Certified Staff Background Verification results of current employees and student teachers must be on file. Authorized by SDCL 13-10-12 and clarified by SDCL 13-10-14.
Completed criminal background checks must be on file for each person over eighteen years of age that is hired by the school district. Submit fingerprints to the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to comply. More information about how to do this in South Dakota can be obtained by contacting the DCI office.
In order to assure these requirements, districts will need to verify background check reports are on file for certified staff using a list provided by the state department at the time of the review.
SCHOOL DISTRICT ASSURANCES
- Classified Staff Background Assurance results of current employees and student teachers must be on file. Authorized by SDCL 13-10-12 and clarified by SDCL 13-10-14. A signed assurance provided by the district that a background check report is on file for all classified staff whose hire date qualifies them to have one on file.
- Open Enrollment — Assurance Authorized by SDCL 13-28-43
Parents or guardians must submit the completed application form to the "choice" district.
The school board of the "choice" district acts on the applications of students who want to transfer in. (No action is required by the resident district from where the student plans to transfer; however, a copy of the application will be provided to the home district for informational and planning purposes.)
Within five days after school board action on the application (either to approve or disapprove), the "choice" district sends a signed copy of the form (white copy) back to the parent or guardian.
For the review, a signed assurance provided by the district that open enrollment procedures are followed as per SDCL 13-28-43.
- Kindergarten Requirements Authorized by SDCL 13-28-2, 13-28-4
Kindergarten and junior kindergarten programs must be taught by certified staff and aligned to state content standards. If a district offers a combined preschool and junior kindergarten or combined preschool and kindergarten program, the programs must be accounted for separately. State aid is not paid for students in preschool and teachers teaching preschool must have that portion of their day subtracted from their percentage FTE.
- Student Records-Secure Storage – Assurance Authorized by ARSD 24:43:09:02 and SDCL 13-3-56 .
A permanent record of each student's scholarship and attendance, as well as a cumulative record kept for each student through the elementary and secondary schools shall be kept and stored in a safe place where it cannot be destroyed, i.e., a fireproof safe. If records are not stored in a fireproof safe, a duplicate copy shall be kept in a place that is not the school building.
A student's individual academic achievement test scores shall be made part of the student's permanent record and provided by the local district to parents or guardian of each student or, in the case of an emancipated student, to the student.
- Graduation Requirements - Assurance Authorized by SDCL 13-1-12.1; ARSD 24:43:11:02, and ARSD 24:43:11:07
Schools must offer at a minimum every two years the courses required for high school graduation. See ARSD 24:43:11:07 for the offerings required and 24:43:11:02 for the graduation requirements. Districts must be able to show that they are in compliance with these requirements.
Schools have three options for the 2019-20 school year: 1) implement the new requirements immediately; 2) continue to follow the previous requirements; 3) use both the old requirements and the new, depending on what's appropriate for the individual student.
- Waivers of Administrative Rule Authorized by ARSD 24:43:08:03.
The district must demonstrate that any waivers of administrative rule it holds continue to be in the best interest of students. This is documented by reporting on progress through the district or school's improvement plan.
All waiver applications should be submitted to the department by July 1. Please check http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/adminrulewaivers.aspx to verify whether your school or district holds an administrative rule waiver(s).
National Motto Authorized by 13-24-23. National motto to be displayed in prominent location of public school. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the national motto of the United States, "In God We Trust," shall be displayed in each public school.
The display shall be located in a prominent location within each public school. The display may take the form of a mounted plaque, student artwork, or any other appropriate form as determined by the school principal. The display shall be easily readable and may be no smaller than twelve inches wide by twelve inches high. For the purposes of this section, a prominent location is a school entryway, cafeteria, or other common area where students are most likely to see the national motto display.
- School Improvement Plan A current school improvement plan(s) is in place. Authorized by ARSD 24:43:01:03
A current school or district improvement plan must be in place that covers all students and all buildings, whether through one plan or multiple plans.
An "improvement plan" is a written document developed by the school district, based on local data. An improvement plan sets forth policies, processes, practices, and strategies that are grounded in research and will lead to continuous improvement of student learning. The plan identifies a challenging set of goals and sets forth actions that will be taken to achieve the goals. It specifies the responsibilities of the school district and its schools. The plan includes periodic benchmarks, measurement processes, and evaluation protocols. An improvement plan must be approved by the school board and, after adoption, becomes an official district document. An improvement plan is subject to annual review.
A district or school may choose a format that best suits the community, provided it contains at a minimum, all components found in the state template: https://doe.sd.gov/oatq/documents/SchImpCrt.pdf.DOE-approved formats include:
- Association of Christian Schools International
- Baldrige Criteria
- Bureau of Indian Education Model
- Christian Schools International
- Cognia (AdvancEd)
- Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation
- Effective Schools Improvement Process
- McRel School Improvement Model
- National Association of Private Schools
- National Lutheran Schools Association
- Title I (School-wide Plans)
- Wisc. Evangelical Lutheran Synod School Accreditation
- Personal Learning Plan (PLP) Authorized by ARSD 24:43:11:01.
Students should begin to develop their personal learning plan in their 8th grade year. Ideally, personal learning plans are dynamic documents that assist individual students in mapping out the courses and experiences that will help them in meeting their academic and career goals. The PLP may be completed in any form (i.e. SDMyLife's Personal Learning Plan, Infinite Campus' Multi-Year Academic Planner, etc.). Personal Learning Plans must document at least 22 credits from 9-12th grades. They can also incorporate extracurricular activities, work-based learning experiences, industry-recognized certifications, out-of-school training opportunities, and the like.
For the review, evidence of completed PLPs with at least 22 credits in an academic plan should be shown either by accessing them electronically or from students' permanent files.
- FERPA - Family Education Rights and Privacy Act Authorized by 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. Parents and guardians must be notified of their right to withhold certain information that could potentially be shared through the FERPA. The Department will want to see that the district made this information public. Suggested methods to share FERPA notification with stakeholders are: local newspaper, parent letter, student handbook, or posted on office bulletin board. The reviewer will ensure that complete contact information for the federal office is part of the notice. An excellent resource for what should be included in FERPA notification can be found at the US Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office.
- Safety Plan/Emergency Plan Authorized by SDCL 13-25-10 and ARSD 24:43:09:01.
An up-to-date written plan for the safety of students and staff in the event of a fire, tornado, or disaster should be on file.
- Emergency Drills Documentation Authorized by SDCL 13-25-10
The district should keep documentation indicating the dates and times of at least two fire drills per semester and any additional disaster or evacuation drills conducted.
- Bullying policy requirements Authorized by SDCL 13-32-16.
Each school district policy developed pursuant to §§ 13-32-14 to 13-32-19, inclusive, shall contain the following provisions:
- A statement prohibiting bullying and a definition of bullying that includes the definition listed in § 13-32-15;
- A description of the type of behavior expected from each student of the school district, and the consequences for a student of the school district who commits an act of bullying;
- A procedure for reporting an act of bullying, including provisions that permit a person to anonymously report such an act, although formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report; and
- A procedure for the prompt investigation and response to any report of bullying, including a requirement that an investigation be conducted on any alleged incident of bullying committed against a child while the child is aboard a school bus, at a school bus stop, or at a school-sponsored event.
The school district bullying policy will be reviewed to ensure that provisions 1-4 are included. The district should show how the policy is made readily available to stakeholders, parents, and students.
- Policy for school district employees on use of restraint and seclusion. Authorized by SDCL 13-32-20.
The school board of each school district shall adopt or revise a school district policy for school district employees on the use of restraint and seclusion. The policy pursuant to §§13-32-20 shall contain the following provisions:
- A procedure for notifying the parent or guardian of the student, unless the student is emancipated, of an incident requiring the use of restraint or seclusion;
- A prohibition on the use of prone restraint, defined as physical pressure applied to any part of the student's body to keep the student in a face down position on the floor or other surface, except when the use is necessary and reasonable in manner and moderate in degree; and
- A prohibition on the use of involuntary confinement of a student locked alone in a room, unless there is a clear and present danger.
- Online Courses Authorized by ARSD 24:13:12:10.
Distance learning courses must be provided through an approved South Dakota Virtual School provider. Districts offering classes outside of the South Dakota Virtual School must provide students with a certified teacher and demonstrate alignment to state content standards.
Click here to download the directions to provide documentation indicating the district has met the accreditation requirements for online learning.
- Teaching to State Content Standards Authorized by SDCL 13-33-1 and 13-3-48.
Download the directions to provide documentation indicating the district has met the accreditation for curriculum alignment. Rubric utilized by the Divison of Learning and Instruction for approval of this component.
The importance of curriculum alignment is to improve student achievement by ensuring all students receive a coherent, rigorous, and relevant learning experience. A curriculum alignment process allows teachers to identify and fill gaps, eliminate unnecessary repetition, and ensure instruction is appropriately focused on key concepts and skills. Curriculum alignment also allows teachers to make better choices on what to teach and how much time to spend on a topic.
Accredited schools must teach to the state content standards as approved by the Board of Education. A current list of standards can be found at: http://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/index.aspx. Please note that the 2017-2018 school year is the first year of implementation for several career and technical education standards. Standards revision and adoption timeline: http://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/documents/StandardsRevisionTimeline.pdf
- Teacher Evaluation Authorized by SDCL 13-42-34.
Any public school district seeking state accreditation shall evaluate the performance of each certified teacher in years one through three not less than annually, and each certified teacher in the fourth contract year or beyond, not less than every other year.
Click Here to access the Teacher Evaluation Pre-Accreditation Narrative
Districts will be asked to provide the following:
- A completed Pre-Accreditation Narrative
- A completed anonymous SLO + any other SLO documentation you may have
- Aggregate Student Growth (SLO) Ratings (how many teachers had low growth, expected growth, and high growth)
- Aggregate Professional Practice Ratings (how many teachers were unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished)
- A completed anonymous Teacher Evaluation
- The district's Evaluation Policy from negotiated agreement and/or handbook which includes how often the district evaluates teachers
- Principal Evaluation. Authorized by ARSD 24:58:03:01.
Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, each school district shall evaluate the performance of each principal and assistant principal at least once per year for the principal's or assistant principal's first four years of employment with the district and at least every other year thereafter.
Click Here to access the Principal Evaluation Pre-Accreditation Narrative
Districts will be asked to provide the following:
- A completed Pre-Accreditation Narrative
- The district's Evaluation Policy from negotiated agreement and/or handbook which includes how often the district evaluates principals
- Evidence/documentation that evaluations are taking place
- Schedule and evaluation tool for future evaluations
- School Calendar reflects required minimum hours, and reported to the state by the last Friday in August. Authorized by SDCL 13-26-1 and ARSD 24:17:03:08.
A school calendar shall be submitted for all applicable attendance centers and the online calendar updated on a regular basis to reflect actual instructional time. The department will check the district's calendar(s) through Infinite Campus.
The required minimum hours, exclusive of intermissions, are as follows:
- Kindergarten: 437.5
- Grades 1-5: 875
- Grades 6-12: 962.5
All school calendars are due by the last Friday in August. The minimum data reporting requirements for a school calendar are as follows:
- Start date of school year;
- End date of school year;
- Grade levels;
- School terms in quarters, semesters, or trimesters; and
- Certification Staff are state certified and properly endorsed to teach current assignments. Authorized by SDCL 13-42-1.2 and 13-43-5; ARSD 24:43:10:01.
Each person that is required to be certified shall have a current educator certificate or plan of intent, or both as applicable, for their current assignment. Staff must have accurate up-to-date information entered on the Personnel Record Form (PRF) system. It is no longer a requirement to have a paper copy of a certificate on file in the administrative office of the school system. The validity of a certificate can be verified through the Department of Education's Teacher 411 website.
SCHOOL DISTRICT EVIDENCE BASED COMPONENTS
- Accessing the System
- Verifications - Home School, Student Certified Birth, Student Immunizations, Certified Staff Background
- Assurance Statements – Classified Staff Background, Open Enrollment, Kindergarten Requirements, Student Record-Secure Storage, Graduation Requirements
- Graduation Requirements
- Waivers from Administrative Rule
- FERPA & National Motto
- School Improvement Plan
- Personal Learning Plan (PLP)
- Safety/Emergency Plan, Emergency Drills Documentation
- Bullying Policy, Restraint & Seclusion Policy
- Online Course (coming soon!)
- Teaching to the State Content Standards
- Teacher Evaluations
- Principal Evaluations
Under ARSD 24:43:01:03, the school improvement plan is identified. An "improvement plan" is a written document developed by the school district, based on local data. An improvement plan sets forth policies, processes, practices, and strategies that are grounded in research and will lead to continuous improvement of student learning. The plan identifies a challenging set of goals and sets forth actions that will be taken to achieve the goals. It specifies the responsibilities of the school district and its schools. The plan includes periodic benchmarks, measurement processes, and evaluation protocols. An improvement plan is the subject of official action by the school board and, after adoption, becomes an official district document. An improvement plan is subject to annual review.
A district or school may choose a format that best suits the community, provided it contains at a minimum, all components found in the state template: https://doe.sd.gov/oatq/documents/SchImpCrt.pdf.
There is no one model for a successful school improvement plan. South Dakota Administrative Rule states, though, that accreditation and district improvement is for an entire district. Although not all buildings within a district must be included under the same improvement plan, all buildings within a district must have some form of current improvement plan in place. An accreditation review will verify the existence and implementation of these plans. The Department of Education has also developed an improvement plan template for any district/system use - see "School Improvement Plan Template" below.
For questions relating to accreditation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org