Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Principal “Reflections & Projections”

Mid-February brings all types of weather to the Black Hills!  Usually a mix of nice and “not so nice.” What happened this year?  We seem to be stuck in the “not so nice” trend….  Beauty is “in the eye of the beholder”, but in this case you had better like snow and cold!  I hope that everyone has endured the winter and is looking forward to those nice spring days that the Black Hills is known for and usually gets - just hang on, it will happen, but until then, we must adapt.

Schools are always adapting.  It is our job to improve every day. Adopt to all students and the needs each has. Continuous improvement is every districts goal. We cannot do it alone. We cannot improve without feedback.

All Spearfish School district parents recently received a phone message and an email soliciting input for our AdvancED accreditation.  A survey link was included with the email.  Please take the time to complete the survey.  Your information is important to us.  We want to provide the best education possible to each and every student and we need your honest opinion and thoughts how to best do that.  In essence, how we need to adapt and change.  What we can do to improve student learning and understanding. What we can do to assure all students are college and career ready.

AdvancED is built around a commitment to continuous improvement. This is a dynamic effort, consistently requiring attention and revision. The accreditation process expects this commitment from all the educational institutions they serve, and we expect it from ourselves. Spearfish High School has been a part of this process for 90 consecutive years.  With that, we are proud of our AdvancED accreditation and believe strongly in the expectations outlined in the process.

Goals, performance, perceptions, and a systematic approach to what and how a school works is the key to ongoing improvement.  The Spearfish School District is fully engaged in ongoing improvement.

The AdvancED model marks an evolution in continuous improvement and accreditation. While leveraging accreditation as a powerful tool for driving effective practices in support of student learning, these research-based standards also emphasize teaching and learning; share embedded common themes across standards; and address students' ability, which will successfully develop learning, thinking, and life skills, all critical elements of student achievement.  The new standards, varying in number based on institution type, are organized under three domains: Leadership Capacity; Learning Capacity; and Resource Capacity.

The domains are statements that define the capacity of an organization or institution to provide quality and meet the rigorous demands of continuous improvement. Each domain is further defined by standards, which in turn, are defined by performance rubrics.

The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education. But such definitions, though accurate, are incomplete.  While accreditation is a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating an institution’s organizational effectiveness, it is far more than that. Today accreditation examines the whole institution—the programs, the cultural context, the community of stakeholders—to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.  Please help us through this important process.

To accompany your survey results, SHS has been working on an “internal” self-assessment for the past couple years. During this time we conduct a self-assessment against a set of research-based quality standards.  This can, and has, produced a wealth of galvanizing insights.  Honest self-evaluation is unparalleled in its ability to uncover and bring into sharp focus special challenges for an institution that may not have been fully understood.

This all leads to an external review scheduled for the fall of 2019.  The external review is the hallmark of the accreditation process, and like the internal self-assessment, it energizes and equips the leadership and stakeholders of the school system to tackle those areas that may be thwarting desired performance levels.

It is the goal of Spearfish High School to move forward, to adapt to the future demands of education.  We want curricular material to be challenging, not just difficult.  We want deeper lessons that tied to great assessments.  We want students to transform from learning individually to working collaboratively.  We want relevant homework that is interesting and a natural extension of the classroom, not just something that is assigned.  We want to adapt from having the teacher being the sole source of information to having the entire classroom as an information resource.  We want a supportive and encouraging climate in which all students want to learn.  We want students to be able to think and reason.  We want to graduate all students.

SHS desires a high expectation of success for all students.  Please help us get there!  Be involved.

H.G Wells said it best – “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative.”

Until next time,
Steve Morford
Principal – Spearfish High School