District 834 test score analysis indicates progress

When it comes to test scores, the students of Independent School District 834 are improving and starting to close the learning gap, according to district officials.

Spring MCA test results show students earned 70 percent proficiency in reading, 72.7 percent proficiency in math and 61 percent proficiency in science.

Their results were comparable with the top five districts in the state when it came to math and reading but could use some work when it comes to science, according to Executive Director of Secondary Schools Ryan Laager. Nevertheless, he said, the district was comparable to similar districts in science.

Students competed favorably with the likes of Wayzata, Minnetonka, Edina, South Washington, Lakeville and Eden Prairie, all of which were in the top five districts, depending on the category measured.

Students performed above the state average on all three tests.

Science scores increased at the fourth- and eighth-grade level, and the high school’s math scores made the biggest jump ever recorded at the school.

There was a slight decline in math scores across the state and district, but the high school average grew by 16 percent this year over last.

“The high school math department did an incredible amount of work to get this to happen,” Laager said. “They created tons of learning targets and worked on it until the students were proficient at all the learning targets. The teachers worked really hard, and to see this end result made it all worth it.”

When it came to reading, changes to state tests resulted in a slight decline across the state and district. At 70 percent proficient, Stillwater students still performed significantly above the state average of 58 percent.

Overall the scores resulted in good “Multiple Measurement Ratings,” which are used to determine federal accountability for schools and their annual yearly progress needs after the state of Minnesota opted out of No Child Left Behind. MMR ratings are based on the percentage of total possible points earned in the four component areas: MCA proficiency, MCA growth, achievement gap reduction for sub-groups and High School graduation rate. The results are then broken down by schools.

Of all students taking the test, 74.3 percent of them made medium and high growth progress on reading, while 72.2 percent of students made medium and high growth progress in math.

Laager credited the students’ success to the intervention programs that are set up for students in both subjects. Coordinator of Student Performance and Assessment Chris Balow added that the data gathered by the district has shown it is closing the learning gap (between whites and minority populations) with programs like Read with Me and Math with Me, which is the opposite of what is happening at the state level.

“Our success stories can be found at Oak Park Elementary, Lake Elmo Elementary, Lily Lake Elementary and Andersen Elementary,” Laager said. “They’ve gotten great designations as Title I blue ribbon and rewards schools because they’ve made significant gains in closing the learning gaps at those schools.”

Title I schools are determined by the number of students attending a school that participate in the free or reduced lunch program. “A lot of this success has to do with (Coordinator of Equity and Integration) Eric Anderson’s program of helping kids and staff and working with them to make a significant commitment to increasing test scores,” Laager said. “They really go the extra mile at those schools.”


Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]