District 728 scores improve

The results of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) 2012 Multiple Measures Ratings (MMR) have been released.

Every elementary school in the Elk River Area School District increased its performance from the previous year. The overall district results meet MDE expectations.

The MMR is the state’s new accountability measure. Earlier this year MDE was granted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Under the waiver, all schools are evaluated on proficiency, growth and closing the achievement gap.

In addition, high schools are also evaluated on their graduation rates. The ratings use the results from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) in reading and math to determine the proficiency and growth of individual schools.

Twin Lakes Elementary School earned a 93 percent while Otsego Elementary school increased its results by 40 percent from the previous year. Two middle schools also saw increases in their year-to-year performance.

“These scores demonstrate the improvements that are being made in our schools,” said Joe Stangler, director of research and assessment. “Even though the MMR is new, it squarely fits with our district’s mission to educate all of our students and to strive for growth in each and every area.”

Stangler said that under the NCLB system the only calculation used was that of Adequate Yearly Progress, which was based solely on reading and math proficiency.

“The new system is an improvement in that growth and achievement gap closure are included in the calculation,” Stangler said.

Another NCLB waiver change Stangler noted is that the punitive aspects of AYP are replaced with support and positive recognition. Instead of labeling schools as needing improvement, the new MMR identifies schools that need support, as well as schools that deserve to be recognized for the positive work that they are doing.

Three District 728 schools, Lincoln, Otsego and Parker elementaries, are identified as “Celebration-eligible” schools. These schools are in the top 40 percent of all Title I schools in the state and can now apply to be designated as “Celebration” schools.

“This is truly a testament to the work of the staff at Otsego,” said Superintendent Mark Bezek. “Given the fact that they were mired in AYP consequences just a few years ago and have now received this positive designation demonstrates the dedication and hard work of all of the staff members,” he said. “At the same time, we are celebrating the achievements of Lincoln and Parker as well as all of our schools that continue to move forward.”

In addition to the MMR, MDE assigns a Focused Rating (FR) to each school. The FR is specific to closing the achievement gap of students of color and of disadvantaged student groups, which includes English Learners, Special Education students and students on the federal meal program. Like the MMR, the FR uses proficiency and growth to determine the rating for each school, but these aspects are focused on closing the achievement gap.

District wide, the average FR improved by 15 percent. Zimmerman Middle School demonstrated the highest FR growth at 40 percent.