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Roosevelt looks back at year of improvement (with video)

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WILLMAR — Roosevelt Elementary School Principal James Hill wanted to thank his teachers for their success in raising students’ proficiency rates during the past year.

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Roosevelt came very close to hitting the school’s growth target in the state Multiple Measurement Ratings scores released Oct. 1 by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Watch: Roosevelt Elementary staff meeting video

Hill said his teachers’ impressive effort was something to be celebrated. So he noted their success with cake during a Friday morning staff meeting in the music room before students arrived for classes.

Drawn on white frosting was a target, with an arrow pointing to the bull’s eye and words stating Roosevelt “was .0077 away from hitting our learning growth target for all students.’’

Hill, in his first school year at Roosevelt, told teachers he wanted to “celebrate all the work you folks have done and how helpful you have been to help make me successful, and more importantly not just me, our administrative team, but true efforts of what you do, most importantly the students.’’

In an interview after the celebration, Hill said Roosevelt’s proficiency rates increased by nearly 20 percent from last year.

“And although we need to do some substantial work with our subgroups, it doesn’t discount that we have more kids proficient here at Roosevelt Elementary and we wanted to make sure that our teachers know and knew that the work that they are doing is making a difference,’’ he said.

“Now we just have to recognize and realize how do we take these differences that we’re making and apply it to all kids,’’ he continued. “I think what we’ll see is even more success with our subgroup population by next year so we raise the expectation. I think it’s crucial when we think about all kids that the more we do for all kids from all backgrounds the better it is for the city of Willmar.’’

Also speaking at the celebration was Lowell Haagenson of Sartell, school advocate and special education specialist with Resource Training and Solutions. One of the agency’s programs and services is providing support to preK-12 education and working with schools in the state designated as Focus and Priority schools.

In an interview, Haagenson said Roosevelt’s designation will continue as a Focus school, which is among the 10 percent of schools contributing most to the state’s achievement gap.

However, Haagenson said Roosevelt experienced a significant increase in student proficiency from 2012 to 2013 and was just shy of hitting the growth target.

“Those are huge gains. Those are something to be really proud of and to celebrate. I think the other thing to celebrate is we also raised the awareness that there is and maintains to be an achievement gap in Willmar. That leads us to ask ourselves why. We’re digging deeper into that data now to determine why and what we can do about it,’’ he said.

“We’re looking at where we are today with reason to celebrate and looking toward that growth that we need to achieve with those student gap reductions,’’ he said.

As part of the celebration, a raffle was held and Wal-Mart assistant manager Amber Nechanicky gave out 10 $50 gift cards and two boxes of supplies, each box valued at $100.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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