RCW wins recognition from national magazine
RENVILLE -- The hard work of the students and teachers at Renville County West High School has been noticed by a national magazine. RCW received a bronze medal in a ranking of public high schools published last month by U.S. News & World Report.
RENVILLE -- The hard work of the students and teachers at Renville County West High School has been noticed by a national magazine.
RCW received a bronze medal in a ranking of public high schools published last month by U.S. News & World Report.
Minnewaska Area High School also received the award, as well as Morris, Chokio-Alberta and Lakeview high schools.
In all, 48 Minnesota schools received bronze, silver or gold medals in the study, which examined 21,069 public high schools in 48 states.
The schools receiving awards in Minnesota make up 6 percent of the schools in the state which offer classes through the 12th grade.
RCW Superintendent Lance Bagstad said he believes the award recognizes the efforts the district has made to reach out to students and reduce achievement gaps between groups.
"We've really worked hard to focus on all students," he said.
Bagstad and High School Principal Jeff Wilson said they are pleased to have the recognition for their district. It means a lot in the face of the district's classification of not making adequate progress on state standardized tests, they said. Many districts in the state fall into that category if even a small subgroup of students does not do well on state tests.
"I think (the award) reinforces the fact we feel we are doing a good job of educating our students," Bagstad said.
RCW offers a broad curriculum, Bagstad said. It ranges from an intervention program for students who struggle with the state's standardized tests to courses where students can earn college credits.
The Targeted Intervention Program is for students who need help with some skills related to the state tests, Wilson said. The program focuses on math and reading. A computer program helps identify skills that individual students need to work on.
The Challenge Program offers college classes taught by the high school instructors. This year, seniors can graduate with as many as 19 college credits.
The district is committed to its curriculum, but the state's budget woes are expected to hit area schools hard as they prepare the budgets for the next school year.
Bagstad said RCW will try to try to maintain the entire spectrum of classes. "We have to have additional programs to get kids up to speed," he said, "but it costs money," and there's no state aid available for things like (the Targeted Intervention Program)."
Federal education law has created a higher awareness of achievement gaps and heightened efforts to address them, Wilson said. However, it has also piled more requirements on schools without offering additional funding.
"We certainly have our challenges," Wilson said, but the district has also made improvements in reaching all students.
Faculty members appreciate the recognition from the reward.
"I think a lot of times small schools are overlooked and don't get the recognition for the work we do," said Deb McGraw, who teaches English as a Second Language classes and Targeted Intervention Program classes. "It was nice to be honored."
The district went through statutory operating debt a few years ago. That means that its budget deficit exceeded limits set by the state. The district made large budget cuts to turn around its financial situation.
Since the cuts, "all of us have had to take on so much more," said Richard Schrupp, a math teacher. "All of us are working very hard, and all of that hard work is showing up. ... We've done a lot of different things in the last few years to reach a lot of different students."
The success of the school is a two-way street, the teachers said.
"Kids know teachers are working hard for them, so they're going to work hard, too," Schrupp said.