The South Dakota Report Card highlighting school performance is now available online. The Report Card, based on South Dakota's new accountability system, measures each of the state's schools on several key indicators and gives each school a score out of a total 100 points.
Thirty-four schools earned classifications of Exemplary, which is the top rating and includes the top 5 percent of schools. Eighteen of those were Exemplary for a second year in a row. The next 34 schools earned Status classifications based on their high-ranking scores, placing them in the top 10 percent of schools.
"With the new accountability system, we are providing educators, parents and policy makers with a wealth of data," said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. "That's the purpose of this process: to provide rich data to schools as they prepare our students for the challenges of college and careers in the 21st century."
High school completion is one measure that has been added to the accountability system. The new system measures both students who complete high school in four years and students who take longer to complete or earn a GED.
"We want to recognize schools that help higher-risk students finish high school, even if it takes more than four years. This data shows that a number of our schools are succeeding in this area," Schopp said.
Lead-Deadwood's Career & Tech Ed Campus is one example. The completion rate for students at the school was 80 percent, "which is no small feat," Schopp said.
Student achievement, as measured by the Dakota STEP test, is another key data point. Proficiency rates on the state assessment have remained steadily in the mid-70s for several years, and that continued this year. Across the state, 74 percent of students scored at the proficient or advanced levels in math. In reading, 74 percent of students also scored at the proficient or advanced levels.
This year, the state is moving to new standards in English and math, and a new assessment will follow. Schopp cautions people not to compare the old and new assessments. "Proficiency levels will look very different when we have a new assessment in place. We are moving to more rigorous standards and to a more complex assessment. The new proficiency rates won't be comparable to those we're used to, but we need to stay the course for the long-term benefit of our students."