I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR -- Participation in sports and other activities has been strong in Willmar's schools, even with a higher fee structure in place this year. If voters allow an operating levy to expire at the end of the year, those fees could go even higher. The district's attempt to renew and increase the operating levy was turned back by the voters in 2010.
WILLMAR -- The psychology of Batman and the Joker was up for discussion last week at Willmar Senior High. Eighty students, mostly seniors, signed on this term for the class co-taught by communications teacher Amy Grussing and social studies teacher Lyle Hovland.
Students and parents who want to practice on MCA III sample problems can go to the website www.perspectiveforfamilies.com . Choose Minnesota on the home page, and then choose the student's grade on the Minnesota home page. Students should have an ID number they can use to sign in, or they can browse the library, too. The Willmar Public Library has tutors available from 6 to 8 p.m.
The State Department of Education uses great care to develop the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. Danith Clausen, Willmar's director of curriculum and instruction, said the tests are written by groups of teachers recruited by the SDE from across the state. They start with the state standards and then they write the test specifications, deciding what standards will be included in the test.
Take a look at the state's sample math test for eighth-graders, chock full of algebra problems, and, depending on your memory and your age, you may think: Wow, I've forgotten a lot. Umm, what does that word mean? Did I ever learn this in the first place? Wait, this is for eighth-graders? Yes, it's for eighth graders, and Willmar school officials were as surprised as anyone when the sample test was posted on the Minnesota Department of Education website at the end of 2010. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard's reaction? "I thought I wasn't smart enough," he said.
WILLMAR -- Asked what advice he would give to job hunters who have been out of work for a long time, U.S. Sen.
WILLMAR - Renewable energy could be the driving force behind economic growth in rural Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Al Franken said Wednesday. Franken toured some local energy projects in Willmar after spending a day and a half in Morris on a similar tour.
SPICER -- Business has been good this year for companies that are dependent on winter weather. Particularly for snowmobile dealers, the steady arrival of fresh snow during most of the winter has been a godsend after years of sparse snow and a struggling economy. "Normally we don't have rideable snow until around Christmas," said Nathan Nielsen, co-owner of Spicer Sports & Marine. "This year we were riding by the end of November." "Kandiyohi County and indeed the whole state has really developed a nice trail system," Nielsen said.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar, Montevideo and New London-Spicer school districts are close to an agreement to share the services of Willmar's nutrition director among the three districts. Willmar Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the School Board about the plan at Monday's board meeting.
WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College President Douglas Allen still hopes to see a state bonding bill that includes a $14.3 million improvement project for his Willmar campus. Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a $1 billion bonding bill earlier this week and supplied a list of projects to make up half the total. It included the Ridgewater project.