The information will be shared with them privately, through password-secure websites, from the state Department of Education.
Schools that need special attention because of their performances will receive telephone calls.
On July 30, the information becomes public. Each school then must make the information available to parents of every student and be able to prove that was done.
South Dakota is one of several dozen states now operating under NCLB waivers from the U.S. Department of Education because they couldn’t fulfill NCLB requirements.
The waivers allow state education departments to design and use their own rating systems, instead with federal approval.
But the emphasis set by NCLB a decade ago — that data from standardized tests can provide school officials with an important indicator of how well students are or aren’t learning math and English — remains as the backbone.
For this year’s scores, there are three indicators that add up to a total of 100 possible points:
- Student achievement is worth up to 50
- High school completion up to 25
- College and career readiness, as measured by ACT scores on math and language, up to 25.
Two years from now, evaluations of teachers and principals will be added to the scoring, as will a factor called school climate, which hasn’t been defined yet.
The national Smarter Balance test, which will be administered to all 11th-grade students, eventually will replace the ACT for readiness scoring.
Students statewide also will be able to take remedial courses in math and language while in high school, rather than be forced to pay for them in college.
NCLB led to what are known as school report cards, complete with grade-by-grade data from the standardized tests, being available for the public to see.
The waiver means South Dakota’s report cards are changing under the new approach. “This year is very different from prior years,” said Abby Javurek-Humig, director for the state Division of Assessment and Accountability.
Besides rating schools, state Education Secretary Melody Schopp and the South Dakota Board of Education set a clear goal for student improvement under the new system.
They want schools to reduce by half, over a period of six years, the percentages of students who are under-performing on the statewide standardized tests.
Each school must have an accountability team to analyze the data and develop their plans.
“You need to have someone who knows, who’s in charge, to look at the data,” state board president Don Kirkegaard said. He is superintendent for the Meade school district.
Schopp and her staff have two series of meetings already scheduled to work with school officials in the next two months.
There will be regional meetings — Sioux Falls Aug. 7, Rapid City Aug. 13, Pierre Aug. 14 and Aberdeen Aug. 15 — and regional data retreats: Aberdeen Aug. 28-29; Sioux Falls Sept. 3-4; Pierre Sept. 11-12; and Rapid City Sept. 18-19.
Schopp’s department will work closely and directly with schools in the two lowest tiers, Focus and Priority, in the five-category rankings.
If there is progress, it will be welcomed. South Dakota’s overall performance had stalled in recent years under NCLB. There continues to be a vast gap between the test results for white students and American Indian students.
Schopp is a former teacher and former school board member from the Lemmon area where her husband ranches. She has worked her way up in the department for more than a decade and earned her doctorate along the way.
She began at DOE as one of the field staff that went town to town under the Janklow-era “wiring the schools” program that was one of the first of its kind in the nation to deliver classroom technology.
Now the push is to understand and use data for improvement.
“We really want to be able to support the schools,” Schopp told state board members a few days ago. “It’s going to get even better.”
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