South Washington County Schools' test results show ups and downsSchool District 833 students continue to score above the state average on standardized exams, according to the recently released Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
School District 833 students continue to score above the state average on standardized exams, according to the recently released Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results.
South Washington County Schools students have scored above the state average since the testing began in 2000. This year’s tests were taken in April.
Traditionally high-performing elementary schools such as Liberty Ridge, Red Rock, Royal Oaks and Bailey continue to score at or above 80th percentile in math and reading.
Pullman and Newport elementary schools, which receive federal Title 1 funding because of high numbers of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, are seeing improvement in math and reading at some grades. Crestview, the other Title I elementary school, did not improve in third, fourth or fifth grade.
Woodbury fifth-graders improved from 43 to 65 percent proficiency in math.
Pullman fourth-graders also improved in math over last year’s fourth-grade, going from 72 to 83 percent proficiency and fifth-grade from 33 to 59 percent. Pine Hill fifth-graders went from 34 to 61 percent.
Hillside fourth-grade scores improved from 62 to 74 percent and fifth-graders improved 10 points in math to 71 percent when compared to last year’s fifth-graders.
Elementary reading scores varied but high performing schools, in general, stayed the same as last year.
The test results show areas of improvement and those that need improving, District 833 Superintendent Keith Jacobus said.
“We also show strong results in the area of reading and can be especially proud of our math progress at the middle schools,” he said. “The efforts of our teaching staff through the system are making a difference.”
While there are still achievement gaps among certain groups of students that are improving, efforts to that end will continue, Jacobus said.
Overall, 84 percent of 833 students are proficient in reading compared with 75 percent statewide, according the district.
Pullman, Grey Cloud and Pine Hill improved in third, fourth and fifth grades and Newport in third grade. Armstrong increased in fourth and fifth grade, but dropped in third grade.
In sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade reading, Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Lake middle schools showed improved scores when compared to last year. Oltman students also improved with all students now in the 70th percentile.
In math, Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Lake middle schools showed improvement. Improvement at Oltman, where there has been a concentrated effort to improve math achievement, was dramatic.
Overall, 68 percent of district students are proficient in math compared with 61 percent at the state level.
Sixth-graders posted a 63.9 percent proficiency rate. The previous year’s sixth-graders had only 43 percent proficiency. There was improvement at other grades too. Seventh-grade proficiency jumped from 41 to 68.4 percent. Eight-graders boosted proficiency from 38 to 55.7 percent.
Oltman teachers are “super excited” about reading and math scores, said principal Becky Schroeder.
Teachers spent a year researching how students learn and changed the way they teach, Schroeder said. Math teachers used iPads and there was less emphasis on memorization and more on the process of why and how math problems get solved, according to Schroeder.
Efforts will continue, she said, with students solving a list of 30 math problems each night and teacher emphasis on problem solving and processing skills.
High school scores dip
High School math scores on the MCAII test and the GRAD test required for graduation went down this year as they did statewide, but Woodbury and East Ridge each dropped by more than 10 points.
While the Park score of 62.8 on the GRAD test and 45.3 on the MCAII are near state averages, they remain low.
Park Principal Craig Paul said that in addition to past efforts to increase achievement, new ones are being implemented including:
-- All students not proficient in math will get intervention on missed math concepts.
-- All ninth-grade intervention classes will be using iPads to access math learning technology in addition to access to the Plato computer program in use for several years for independent learning.
-- The ninth-grade academy will focus on math across the curriculum and regularly measure student achievement throughout the year.
-- A special group of building and district staff members will be using data to focus the improvement efforts on targeted areas in the math curriculum.
-- All students in grades nine, 10 and 11 will be tested to see if they have achieved one year of academic growth in math.
In September, the Minnesota Department of Education will begin Multiple Measurement Ratings for schools, under a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind regulations. Instead of labeling schools as “not making adequate progress,” for test scores only, schools will measure the degree of growth students make from one year to the next.
High school results
School District 833 scores are listed for tests taken last April. Note that the comparisons from this year to last year are tests taken by different groups of students. In other words, last year’s eighth-graders are being compared to those of the previous year.
Grade 9 writing
Students need to achieve a passing grade. The following MCAII (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) test is also the GRAD (Graduation Required Assessment Diploma) test required to graduate. The state average score was 91.9. Numbers indicate percent passing.
School 2012 2011
Park 94.7 86.7
ERHS 99.1 92.8
WHS 96.9 92.3
Grade 10 reading
Students must achieve a passing grade of 50 percent to pass the GRAD test. The questions are embedded within the MCAII test. Those who fail are offered remediation and retesting. The average GRAD state score was 80.4. The state average for MCAII was 76.8.
School 2012 2011
Park 86.7 N/A
ERHS 92.8 N/A
WHS 92.3 N/A
School 2012 2011
Park 82.9 81
ERHS 89 89
WHS 90.2 90
Grade 11 math
Students must achieve a passing grade on the GRAD test. The questions are embedded within the MCAII test. The average state GRAD score was 57.7 with 50 being a passing score for graduation. Students who don’t pass either the GRAD or the MCAII test must take remedial classes and have two additional chances to pass the test. If students don’t pass after two tests, they can still graduate. The state average for MCAII math was 42.5.
School 2012 2011
Park 62.8 65
ERHS 78.5 82.9
WHS 80.1 87.5
School 2012 2011
Park 45.3 47.9
ERHS 61.9 73
WHS 65.6 79.9
Other test info
MCAII tests are given to all students in grades 3-8 and high school and also comply with federal requirements to test in math, reading and science. Results are also reported under federal No Child Left Behind. While Minnesota has received a waiver from some of the federal rules under NCLB, test reporting is still in effect, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.
Students don’t pass or fail MCAII tests. Scores all into one of four categories ranging from “doesn’t meet” proficiency to “exceeds” proficiency. Teachers use the results to find out what students are not learning and what teaching methods were used if student score well.
GRAD tests determine whether students will graduate.
New state rules, under the federal waiver, will use MCAII tests, for the first time, to determine how much growth students have achieved in a year’s time. They are expected to be available to schools next month from the Minnesota Department of Education.
For more information on testing, go to the Minnesota Department of Education website, select Data Center and look for “Data for parents and educators.”