SW Schools Score Low On New State Rankings

/ 30 May 2012 / jennifer

James Sanna, Southwest Minneapolis Patch, May 30, 2012 –

Schools must have improvement plans in place by September.

Lyndale Community School may be the darling of Kingfield, Lyndale, CARAG, and East Harriet parents, but this week it’s looking a little less lustrous.

Locally renowned for its ability to help under-performing students catch up to academic standards, the school is one of many Minnesota schools classified as “Focus” schools under the state’s new school grading system. These schools represent the middle 10 percent of the state’s public schools which also have “extreme” achievement gaps. Kenny Community School,Windom Spanish Immersion SchoolRamsey International Fine Arts Center, and Washburn High School were also labeled “Focus” schools.

What Will Change?

The new designation means the school will have to come up with a new improvement plan over the summer. But does that mean these five schools will be turned upside-down by September?

“The goal here is not for the Department of Education from Roseville to come into a school from Minneapolis or St Paul and say ‘This is the way you have to do things now,’” said Samuel Kramer, the Minnesota Department of Education official who helped write the new ratings system.

Individual schools and districts, Kramer said, would have the autonomy to write a plan that improves what they currently do, instead of restructuring the school. School administrators only have 60 days to digest this new flood of data, write those plans, and help teachers start implementing them. That’s a tall order, according to one Minneapolis Public Schools official.

“It’s a very significant concern that there’s not more time to fully engage families and staff to understand the data and collaboratively develop that plan,” said Eric Molho, Director of School Planning.

Kramer pushed back against such concerns, saying the plans would be works in progress, modified based on student performance data.

“The idea is to have a plan that’s active and open,” he said. “We want to accept and encourage revisions.”

Check out our other coverage of Minnesota’s new school ranking system: