Minnesota reports reduced achievement gaps statewide

WILLMAR -- A majority of Minnesota's public schools have made progress in the past year in reducing achievement gaps in reading and math. The Minnesota Department of Education released its Multiple Measurement Ratings Tuesday. The ranking system ...

WILLMAR - A majority of Minnesota’s public schools have made progress in the past year in reducing achievement gaps in reading and math.
The Minnesota Department of Education released its Multiple Measurement Ratings Tuesday. The ranking system looks at test scores, student growth, achievement gaps and graduation rates.
The state developed the ranking system several years ago, when it received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law. No Child Left Behind measurements focus on test scores, while Minnesota chose to look at student growth and achievement gaps, too.
Minnesota offers assistance to schools that fall at the lower end of the Multiple Measurement Ratings scale through regional centers of excellence. Successful schools are asked to share the stories of efforts that have worked for them.
The state’s goal is to reduce achievement gaps by 50 percent by 2017. Minnesota has had some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation.
In west central Minnesota, several districts continued a trend of consistently high scores in the rankings this year. Others have shown marked improvement in recent years.
Across the state, nearly two-thirds of schools are on track to meet the goal of reducing achievement gaps, according to a news release from the state.
“We have set an ambitious goal to close achievement gaps,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in the release. “Every year I am inspired by the incredible dedication and passion of our educators to meet these targets and increase student achievement. I know our teachers and administrators are committed to helping every child succeed.”
Along with Multiple Measurement Ratings scores for every school in the state, the department released lists of schools that receive Title I funding and have earned special designation. This year 119 Title I schools were named Reward schools - public schools that have demonstrated achievements in areas rated under Multiple Measurement Ratings. Every year, the top 15 percent of schools that receive Title I funding -- aid focused on helping lower-income children -- are recognized as Reward schools.
There are other classifications. Celebration-eligible schools are the 25 percent of schools directly below the cutoff for Reward schools. They can apply to be named a Celebration school.
Continuous Improvement schools are in the bottom 25 percent of Title I schools and must develop and implement improvement plans.
A Focus school is among the 10 percent of schools when it comes to achievement gap. Priority schools are among the 5 percent lowest performing schools when it comes to closing the achievement gap and showing student growth.
Ten area schools are designated Celebration-eligible schools, and some have been recognized numerous times. They will be invited to apply for Celebration school status by describing their improvement efforts.
The Celebration-eligible schools in west central Minnesota are Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Elementary, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Elementary, Dawson-Boyd Stevens Elementary, Hancock Elementary, Lac qui Parle Valley Madison-Marietta-Nassau Elementary, LqPV Appleton Elementary, Montevideo Middle School, New London-Spicer Prairie Woods Elementary, Paynesville Elementary and Willmar Kennedy Elementary.
Six Reward schools were named in the area, and some have been recognized several times - ACGC Elementary grades 5 and 6 (recognized four times), BOLD Bird Island Elementary, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Elementary, MACCRAY West Elementary (recognized four times), Minnewaska Area Middle School and Minnewaska Area Elementary School.
Three schools designated for Continuous Improvement including Litchfield Wagner Elementary, E.C.H.O. Charter School and Willmar DREAM Technical Academy.
The area’s three Focus schools are Willmar Roosevelt Elementary, Yellow Medicine East Bert Raney Elementary and Renville County West Elementary.
There are no area schools in the Priority school category.

Celebration school list:

Reward school list:

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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