New SD school ratings draw protests
By Bob Mercer
PIERRE -- Not everybody is satisfied with South Dakota's new system for rating performances of public schools.
The scores released last week quickly drew some protests.
Three school districts have filed formal appeals. As of Tuesday, at least one other district is also contemplating an appeal.
That's according to Mary Stadick Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education. She didn't identify the districts or the specific schools.
There are rating systems, with different criteria, for elementary and middle schools and for high schools.
Schools in the bottom 5 to 10 percent receive focus and priority designations. That means they are to get targeted assistance and interventions from state Department of Education officials.
The window for appeals opened July 30, the day scores became available to the public. It closes Aug. 14. Schools privately received their scores and underlying data no later than July 26.
The school performance index replaces the No Child Left Behind system that was used for the past decade. South Dakota received a federal waiver to put the alternate into place.
High schools are rated on student achievement in reading and math, graduation rate and student readiness for college and careers.
Elementary and middle schools are rated on student achievement in reading and math and on attendance.
Additional criteria such as teacher and principal evaluations and school climate will be rolled into the ratings in the coming years.