Most District 15 schools score above average

/ 31 May 2012 / jennifer

Tammy Sakry, ABC Newspapers, May 31, 2012 –

A new rating system for Minnesota schools has come out and most St. Francis School District 15 schools are above average.

The Minnesota Department of Education’s released a new accountability system May 22 that included two new measurements for schools, the Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) and Focus Rating (FR).

MMR measures individual schools on proficiency, student growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates.

The FR scores on achievement gap reduction and focused proficiency.

The May 22 accountability system was based on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) proficiency results on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in 2010 and 2011.

The current MMR and FR scores are an average of the combined scores from those two years, according to Keith Hovis, MDE deputy communications director.

Scoring at 50 percent would be considered average, he said.

All but one District 15 school scored above 50 percent in both categories.

Having the majority of the schools score above 50 percent is a good thing, but more time is needed to interpret the new data to figure out how the school’s subgroups are doing, said Kurt Becker, District 15 curriculum director.


Multiple Measurement Rating 

The new MMR also scores predicted growth of students based on two years of assessment results and whether the student growth scores were above or below the predictions, according to MDE.

The district’s three elementary schools and middle school were scored on growth and achievement gap reduction.

Although scoring high in proficiency and growth is good, schools will want to get a low score on the achievement gap reduction, Hovis said.

“Getting a minus in this schedule is good news,” he said.

Achievement gap measures the lower performing subgroups in the schools against the statewide average of higher performing groups, such as students of color compared with white students or special education students compared with non-special education students, according to MDE.

High schools have a fourth component to their MMR scores – graduation rates.

The schools are measured on the current AYP graduate target rate of 85 percent, according to the MDE press release.

The graduation score was awarded based on meeting the target, not yearly improvement, it said.

Of the MMR and FR, the state is focusing the most on the MMR, said Becker.

Using the MMR, MDE designated the top 15 percent of schools receiving federal Title I funding as reward schools and the bottom 5 percent as priority schools.

None of the three District 15 schools receiving Title I ended up with a designation.

Approximately 70 percent of Minnesota schools did not end up with a designation, Becker said.


School results

East Bethel Community School (EBCS) scored an average MMR of 68.22 percent and St. Francis Elementary (SFE) School’s average was 61.99 percent.

The one school that fell below the average was Cedar Creek Community School (CCCS) with a MMR of 29.32 percent.

For St. Francis Middle, the MMR score was figured at 53.04 percent and St. Francis High Schools’s average was 69.34 percent.

“Because these type of results are new, we have nothing to compare them with,” Becker said.

While the results are mostly good, there is still room for improvement, he said.

When the state releases the 2012 AYP and MMR results in August, it will give the district something to compare them with, Becker said.

Only SFE, CCCS and the middle school receive Title I funding.


Focus Rating

The FR for each school is based on proficiency and growth of minority students and students receiving special services, like English Learners, special education and free and reduced price lunch, and is an average the various subgroups making AYP in 2010 and 2011.

CCCS’s FR score was 47.83 percent, EBCS scored 77.64 percent and SFE have a 64.41 percent average.

For the middle school, the FR was 70.92 percent and the high school scored 67.98 percent.

MDE used the FR scores to determine if Title I schools should be designated as focus schools.

While none of the district’s schools ended up with the designation, schools with a FR in the middle 10 percent and have an extreme achievement gap were designated as focused schools.

The new FR is new information for the district, said Becker.

This is the first time the district has had data on growth and the achievement gap for the school, but he will not be able to tell if there is a trend until they get the 2012 results, Becker said.

Right now there is not enough information, he said.


New system

Minnesota introduced the new accountability system after receiving a waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act.

It was one of 11 states to receive the waiver.

“The new ratings are the result of implementation of a new fairer, more accurate accountability system made possible through the state’s NCLB waiver,” according to an MDE press release.

“The overarching goal of the new measurement system and Minnesota’s waiver is to dramatically improve the disparity in academic performance between students of color and in poverty and their white counterparts, often called the ‘achievement gap.’”

“State officials hope the new focus will close Minnesota’s achievement gap – one of the nation’s highest – in half within six years.”

Tammy Sakry is at