Academics at BHCA
Students who attend Black Hills Christian Academy receive a top-notch Christian education. We utilize excellent Christian resources that meet or exceed South Dakota’s grade-level standards, we hire certified and highly-qualified teachers, and instructional methods used in our classrooms are engaging, research-based, and continuously adapting to meet the needs of our students. All content areas are Biblically-integrated with a Christian view of God and the world, and God is the center of every day at BHCA. Students leave BHCA well-equipped for their next step.
In the fall of 2020, we earned accreditation from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Every step in the accreditation process is designed to be useful for driving school improvement, and preparing for accreditation was a fantastic way to assess BHCA’s performance in four foundational areas of Christian education:
- bible knowledge & biblical worldview
- academic excellence
- life skills and practical application of knowledge
- character building and spiritual formation.
Through the accreditation process, the quality of our curriculum was strengthened, our school policies were refined, our student achievement is enhanced, and the future direction of our school has been clarified.
Accredited status from the Association of Christian Schools International allows you and the greater community to know BHCA is committed to excellence in providing a high-quality Christian education.
The Cognia accreditation process engages the entire school community in a continuous process of self-evaluation and improvement. The overall aim is to help districts/systems be the best they can on behalf of the students they serve. To earn and maintain accreditation, the school system must meet the Cognia Standards for Quality School Systems and accreditation policies, demonstrate quality assurance through Internal and External Reviews, and engage in continuous improvement. Additionally, the school must respond to and act on the External Review Team’s required actions and submit an Accreditation Progress Report at prescribed intervals following the External Review.
Three major components of School Accreditation:
Engaging in Continuous Improvement: The school articulates and implements a planning framework for school improvement that describes the future direction and purpose for the school, describes the current conditions of the school and its focus on student learning, describes goals designed specifically to address student learning needs and to build the capacity of the internal systems of the school to address such priorities, and provides evidence of the results stemming from improvement efforts. Additionally, the school monitors and adjusts instructional and organizational practices in response to the evidence collected.
Meeting Standards: The school complies with and maintains adherence to the Cognia Standards for Quality School Systems. Additionally, the school is expected to meet Cognia Standards for Quality Schools. The Cognia Standards are research-based, comprehensive quality statements that describe conditions necessary to achieve and maintain high levels of student performance and organizational effectiveness.
Demonstrating Quality Assurance: The school must demonstrate quality assurance through institutional integrity, peer review, and documentation of the results of its improvement efforts. Through institutional integrity, the school strives to deliver on its promise and to be what it claims to be to both the school community and community at large. Through peer review, the efforts of the school to improve student learning are strengthened. Through documentation of the results of its efforts to improve, the school is able to determine their strengths and weaknesses and to plan for further improvement. Under the school accreditation framework the school is responsible for designing and implementing a quality assurance process for its school. This includes conducting a comprehensive Internal Review and hosting an Cognia External Review Team every five years. This team, composed of professional peers from outside the school, is responsible for validating compliance with accreditation standards; assessing the efforts of the school in engaging continuous improvement; and evaluating the effectiveness of an established internal quality assurance process. The Cognia External Review Team will also make visits to the school to ensure alignment and coordination and conduct interviews with stakeholders.
Benefits of School Accreditation
- It is based on effective schools’ research derived from the work of the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE). This research indicates that school improvement support can be more effective than improvement efforts without such support.
- It is based on effective leadership research findings that note that leaders of high performing school develop and maintain quality systems, which provide:
- Direction by setting expectations and guidelines;
- Feedback and assistance (to monitor achievement of performance/expectations);
- A culture that builds understanding and commitment;
- For the use of data and research findings to guide decisions and actions; and
- Resources including professional learning and training opportunities as well as time, human, and fiscal support.
- Its foundation ensures continuity and collaboration in planning for improvement, anchored in a common vision for education among all schools, because each school’s improvement goals must complement that of all schools.
- It supports and enhances a common language of school improvement communication across content areas and grade levels, as well as across individual schools, feeder schools, and other lines of responsibility.
- It ensures an External Review visit every five years by a team of trained peer professionals from outside the school.
- It holds the promise of significantly reducing costs associated with hosting separate peer review teams for the school every five years.
School Accreditation is a process designed to recognize school systems that embrace improving student learning as a systemic process. As such, School Accreditation provides the school systems with a process that supports, enhances, and stimulates growth and improvement throughout the school system.
Part-Time / Dual-Credit / Dual-Enrollment
BHCA offers three programs designed to help meet the needs of those families who are seeking to educate their children using more than one track. These programs offer families some flexibility in creating what they feel is the best opportunity for their students.
Part-Time Student Program – Geared primarily to families that wish to home school their children in addition to having them enrolled at BHCA, this program allows students to take courses that help complete their individual academic program. Students in the part-time program are only on-campus during their class times.
Dual-Credit Program – A state program that allows students that meet eligibility requirements to take courses at Black Hills State University or other accredited college or university to obtain college and high school credit at the same time, dual-credit allows eligible high school students to make progress toward a college degree while also meeting high school graduation requirements.
Dual-Enrollment Program – A program in which students take courses at the public high school in addition to being enrolled at BHCA, dual-enrollment allows students to meet the requirements set by public schools in order to participate in certain public school-sanctioned extracurricular activities. This option is available to students in grades 6-12. *UPDATE: As of June 2021, the State of South Dakota no longer requires Dual-Enrollment for BHCA students to participate in certain public school-sanctioned extracurricular activities.
Contact BHCA at (605)722-1276 with questions about part-time enrollment, the dual-credit program, and the dual-enrollment program.
Subject Area Philosophies
- Bible Class: At BHCA, we teach Bible for two main reasons: one, so students will develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; and two, so students will know the Bible and live Biblically. The Bible is God’s Word, and the Bible is Truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17, John 14:6, John 17:17). Understanding Christ’s impact on our lives, developing a Biblical worldview to see everything from God’s perspective (Eph. 6:13, Rom. 12:2), and application of Biblical principles while being transformed into Christ’s image (1 Cor. 13:1, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 2:9) are all goals of teaching God’s Holy Word to BHCA students. Biblical knowledge builds a foundation for learning, life style, development of character, and strong work ethic (Prov. 22:6, Luke 2:52, Matt. 5:13-16). We teach the Bible because our ultimate goal is to bring honor and glory to God with the purpose of showing Christ to a lost world (Acts 2:41, Acts, 1:8, Matt. 28:18-20).
- Mathematics: Mathematics is a content area where God reveals HIs glory as the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Col. 1:16-17). He is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33,40), and math is an opportunity to study God’s perfect work and nature (Deut. 32:4) and His precision (Ex. 40:47). Learning mathematical principles develops critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and evaluation skills – important tools for making wise use of God’s creation. The development of mathematical skills will lead students to an appreciation for God’s glory and orderliness, and mathematical study in a God-focused environment will develop hearts of praise and thanksgiving for God’s goodness as Creator.
- Language Arts: An emphasis at BHCA because communication with God and His people is essential (John 1:1, James 1:19, Rom. 10:17). With effective communication skills we can read the Bible and understand that our language reflects that we are created in His image (Gen. 1:27) to evangelize the world (Rom. 10:17), to listen to His people and to God (Ps. 19:14, James 1:19), and to speak God’s Truths & Words (2 Sam. 22:7, Ps. 94:9). God, in His goodness, presented us with the great gift of communication and so allows us to hear, listen, speak, write, and read.
- History: BHCA’s students learn history through a Kingdom worldview with God as the author of the true story (Acts 17:26-27, 2 Tim 3:16-17), who has planned and directed all events in order to establish Christ’s kingdom on earth (1 Cor 15:28, Eph 1:10-11). We present both a Biblical and secular account (1 Tim 2:1-2, 2 Sam 23:3, 2 Cor 10:15), identifying and studying examples of both positive and negative character traits (Ps 78:3-4) as God has worked through people throughout history. The story of the human race is the story of God’s redemptive acts to rescue His people and destroy His enemies (Gen 3:15), and history records mankind’s attempts to live out the Creation Mandate (that God commands humankind to “rule” over creation by learning to take care of it – Gen. 1:26-28) in a fallen world. The study of history also addresses our responsibilities for developing citizenship in a Christian community (Mark 12:30-31), cultural identity (Rom 12:2, Heb 13:9), and awareness of a global world and people.
- Science:The primary goal of the Christian science student is to know & glorify God as the creator of the universe. Curiosity and scientific inquiry of God’s complexity and intricacy of God’s Handiwork in the study of Science and His creation will create a wonder that will grow into worshipful awe. As students begin to view all of life through the eyes of faith, they will see evidences of God’s power, wisdom, beauty, and love all around them (Is 64:8 & 40:26, Ps 24:1, Col 1:16-17, Ps 104:5, Job 12:9). God is the Creator of the Universe and actively involved in the physical world; there is order and purpose in all creation and nothing is by chance (Eph 2:10, 1 Cor 14:33). Science is an investigation of the workings of God’s creation and the Creation Mandate (that God commands humankind to “rule” over creation by learning to take care of it – Gen. 1:26-28). God & His Word are Truth (Rom 1:20, 1 Cor 1:26-29, Gal 1:11-12). At BHCA we believe all scientific theories shall be discussed openly as age-appropriate, with freedom to explore all viewpoints. Students should be able to defend their beliefs through a Biblical worldview as God the creator (Ps 139, Gal 1:11-12). The way we teach our students about creation will point them toward the Creator (Rom 11:26, Gen 1, Jer 32:19, Col 1:16-17).
- Physical Education, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts are taught at BHCA for the purpose of glorifying God, expressing His glory because of His character and nature. Our bodies are the temple of God (Rom 12:1) and each part of the body has its own gifts (Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:12-27). We use our bodies to praise and worship God, the Supreme Artist (Ps 96:1, Ps 40:3, Is 64:8, Jer 18:3-6), pursuing excellence in all that we do (Heb 12:1-2).
Encore Enrichment Offerings
- Visual Arts: The prominent objective of our art program is to guide students to grasp the reality that God created all things – He is the first and ultimate Artist. Students learn to be stewards of the abilities God has given, honoring the Lord with their hearts and minds throughout creative and artistic processes.
- Performing Arts: During choir, dance, drama, and music classes, students further develop their understanding of God as Creator of all things, worthy of all praise. In accordance with Psalm 95:1, students are encouraged to “sing to the Lord… [and] make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
- Physical Education/Athletic Program: Goals of our Physical Education and Athletics program include learning and displaying Godly character in each situation we face; acting as good stewards of the physical bodies God has given to us; and honoring God with our talents, abilities, and actions.
- Spanish: The Spanish program at BHCA focuses on celebrating diversity, equipping our students to serve the Kingdom of God cross-culturally, and glorifying God by celebrating and engaging with the beauty and richness in the diversity of His creation.
- Technology: Technology at BHCA is utilized to equip students to fulfill the Great Commission in today’s digital society, to provide media-rich opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate learning, and to develop a thorough understanding of Christian responsibility and God-honoring opportunity related to technology. An on-going area of growth will see STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) become an even stronger part of BHCA.
- Yearbook: BHCA’s yearbook program is an opportunity for students to create a treasury of school memories from year to year, highlighting the opportunities and experiences God has provided for Black Hills Christian Academy students.