RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Students show up for school at Pinedale Elementary in Rapid City, principal Chad Franke said.
“Ninety-eight of our students are in school 97% of the time,” Franke said.
That statistic one of the data points that helped earn the school a National Blue Ribbon Schools designation for 2021. Pinedale Elementary, O’Gorman High School, Arlington Elementary and Gettysburg Middle School all earned the award.
The U.S. Education Department bases the award on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Pinedale earned the award for its overall academic performance.
Franke said the student attendance rate is a reflection of how serious parents, students and staff take their academics.
“We’ve got a pretty good reputation,” Franke said. He described the school and staff having a “pedigree” in academics.
“Seventy percent of our staff have master’s degrees,” Franke said.
The focus on improving the academic skills of students, including in state standards, comes with formal and informal cooperation between teachers, he said.
The school created more time this year for teachers to collaborate and plan. The teachers are also adept at collecting and analyzing data, Franke said.
All of that means staff can help students improve in learning and close gaps, he said.
A one-size fits all teaching approach may have worked years ago “But not anymore,” Franke said.
“You’ve got to meet (students) where they are at,” Franke said. That means a teacher may be using different method and styles throughout her day to reach students.
The K-5 school has three sections of each grade with about 319 students.
The school’s enrollment does not change much throughout the year, Franke said, which is also a positive for staff and students.