Middle School scores high in state testing

/ 24 May 2012 / jennifer

Chuck Kajer, New Prague Times, May 24, 2012 –

New Prague Middle School principal Tim Dittberner was downright giddy Tuesday, following the release of test scores for schools across the state.

“This is like winning a game to go to the state tournament,” said Dittberner, who knows the feeling, having done that five times in his basketball coaching career.

The Minnesota Department of Education released results from the past two years of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests Tuesday, May 21, and New Prague Middle School had a rating of 90.1 percent, one of the highest ratings in the state.

New Prague’s other schools all fared well, scoring above average, but the results at the middle school were remarkable.

“It’s a testament to what they’ve been doing at the school,” said Colleen Cardenuto, the district’s director of curriculum and testing.

“The staff and the leadership team in that building have shown hard work and determination that needs to be recognized,” Cardenuto said. “They are focused on kids and achievement. When the students don’t understand, they go back and reteach.”

The scores released Tuesday was part of the agreement the state received from the U.S. Department of Education to grant a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The scores combine the test results from 2010 and 2012 to come up with a rating based on three domains, student proficiency in reading and math, student growth in reading and math, and the achievement (racial/poverty) gap on the reading and math MCAs.

Each domain counts for 25 points, for a possible score of 75. (high schools have a 100-point possibility, because a fourth component – graduation rate – is added to their score)

New Prague Middle School had a 62.55 score out of 75 in 2010 and a 72.6 score in 2011. the combined score ranks New Prague in the 90.10 percentile among all schools in the state.

“I am very proud of our staff,” said Dittberner, in his 10th year at New Prague. “They have worked extremely hard. You can’t just hope to do well – you have to function as a Professional Learning Community and believe all kids can learn. It has been a school-wide effort – all teachers in every area teach literacy.”

He said the school has improved gradually over the course of the past five years, and the staff has focused on student learning and worked collaboratively in teams to make sure that we know what each student should know and be able to do, know if they are learning, and if they are not learning – providing additional time and instructional support until they do learn

“It’s awesome to see the look on our students’ face and the pride they display.”

Comparing scores to other schools, New Prague was second of 11 schools in the comparative group of schools it uses to compare scores and other data, second only to Sauk Rapids-Rice.

New Prague had the highest score among 12 neighboring middle schools or junior highs, with Lakeville Century, Prior Lake Hidden Oaks, Le Center the next three.