Reporting to parents and patrons

The school report card was released earlier this year and that information was presented at the November school board meeting. Parents, students and staff also just completed the AdvancEd Cognia survey. Both are being analyzed and will be a major part of upcoming discussions at SHS. Our goal is to use each to enhance the teaching and learning process at SHS. 

The recent AdvancED survey will be compared to the same survey given in February 2018. Basically, the survey gives us insight in the areas of Purpose and Direction; Governance and Leadership; Teaching and Assessing for Learning; Resources and Support Systems; and Using Results for Continuous Improvement. 

SHS appreciated and values your input. We want to listen and hope to improve accordingly.  Results will be sent to all parents in early December. We will pair this valuable information and feedback with school accountability and ACT information. 

The South Dakota school accountability system holds schools accountable through annual public reporting and classification of schools. The expectation is that the model will be used to inform school leaders, teachers, parents and the public as to how schools are progressing. With its emphasis on continuous improvement, it sets a high bar for ongoing reflection and goal setting.

South Dakota’s accountability system is based on a 100-point School Performance Index (SPI). The SPI consists of multiple key indicators, with a numeric value assigned to each of the indicators, to measure a school’s performance. These values are added to create a total SPI score out of 100 points. The SPI recognizes both achievement and growth, while providing schools with unique Student Performance targets that encourage continuous and ongoing improvement. This year there are new ways at both the elementary and middle school levels, and the high school level, for students to demonstrate they are on track towards the goal of becoming college, career, and life ready.  The perfect score would be 100. Information below shows how that total is arrived at. 

Student Performance 40 possible points.  Student Performance is based on the students’ performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math for most students. Smarter Balanced is a single one day snapshot, summative assessment designed to measure each student’s mastery of South Dakota’s content standards in ELA and math. A student receives a scale score which falls into four achievement levels. Levels 1 and 2 are considered not proficient; levels 3 and 4 are proficient and above. Proficiency means that a student is on track for meeting college and career readiness standards upon graduation from high school.

High School Completion 12.5 possible points. This is the percent of students in the most recently completed school year who have attained a diploma or a GED. 

Four-Year Cohort Graduation 12.5 possible points. This measure is based on the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class. The adjusted cohort is defined as the students who entered ninth grade for the first time four years ago, minus those who transferred out of the cohort (i.e., moved out of state, transferred to a private school, etc.), plus students who joined the cohort (i.e., students who began four years ago as a ninth grader in a private school, out of state, etc.)

College and Career Readiness 25 possible points. Students are considered assessment ready if they are both English and Math ready or have achieved a Sliver on the National Career Readiness Certificate. Students can become English and Math ready by scoring proficient on any combination of assessments listed above. 

English Language Proficiency 10 possible points. The indicator is designed to focus on the growth of English Learner students to English language proficiency. The point structure for the English Language Proficiency indicator is similar to that of Student Performance. Schools earn a percentage of points based on how their English Learners are performing towards the state’s goals for reaching language proficiency. This is a school district score that will be the same for each building.

As you can see all adds up to a total of 100 possible points. 

Spearfish High School scored as follows: 

Student Performance 31.6 (32.3 last year) 

High School Completion/Graduation 24.4 (24.4 last year)

College/Career Readiness 20.8 (last year18.6)

English Language Learners 5.2 (4.4 last year)

You will see that the SHS score is an 82. That is up from last year’s score of 80. Very respectable. Pair that with the latest ACT score of 22.2 (state average 21.6; national average 20.7) and you have a very successful high school. Trends do show that ACT scores dropped some from the previous year. This is concerning to us and something we will focus on as we move forward. 

Subject area ACT scores are listed below. 


SHS 21.2

State 20.7

National 20.1


SHS 21.8

State 21.3

National 20.4


SHS 23

State 22.2

National 21.2


SHS 22.3

State 21.9

National 20.6

Ensuring a positive climate which enhances teaching and learning every day every block. Not interfering with teaching and learning. Hiring great teachers to assure that each student has an equal opportunity to learn. Helping students succeed any way we can, but yet keeping each student accountable for doing the work. Having high expectations for the students. Having high expectations for staff. All of this leads to successfully preparing students for their future – being college and/or career ready. 

We are fortunate that the Spearfish community supports a strong education system. K-12 is strong here because it is supported and expected to be strong. Post-secondary is strong thanks to Black Hills State University. Relationships between SHS and BHSU enhances what we provide to students. The students at SHS are fortunate.

Department of Ed School accountability information is posted at: You can see all the Spearfish scores at:

Please contact me at the school if you have any questions. 

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” ~Benjamin Franklin

Until next time.

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