DISTRICT ACADEMIC SUCCESS
This past week marked the sixth week of the school year. At the secondary level, it is the end of the first term grading period. At the elementary level, we have just completed the first session of parent-teacher conferences. Across the district and the state, the week is marked by the annual mid-October Education Minnesota break. We are also wrapping up the fall activities seasons. It is a very busy part of the school year.
As we mark the mid-point of October, I would like to highlight information related to ROCORI School District performance—as measured by the state of Minnesota. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Education released information related to the state accountability and reporting processes.
STATE ACCOUNTABILITY REPORTS
Most people are probably familiar with the previously used phrase, “adequate yearly progress” which has become the accountability measure under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind education legislation. While Minnesota must still measure school building and district progress, the state now measures this in a different way than it did in the past.
Minnesota now uses a system called Multiple Measurement Ratings (or MMR) for accountability and school progress. Rather than basing progress simply on test scores, Minnesota uses multiple items to measure school progress. Student performance on statewide testing is certainly one element as we look at overall student proficiency in Math and Reading.
Student growth in performance is also a measure for schools to consider. The expectation with this measure is that students, regardless of their previous performance, should be expected to continue to grow and learn. The extent of growth demonstrated in the testing process is part of the MMR.
Because the state wants to be sure all different types of students are successful, MMR also measures how well schools are working to close the achievement gap. This means that performance must not only show overall proficiency and growth, but that it must also happen among all groups of students. The various ethnic or racial groups, students in poverty or from financially stressed families, special education students, and all other subgroups of students must also make progress.
At the secondary level, the other factor included is the overall graduation rate. Obviously, this cannot be measured for elementary level students, but it is an important factor for senior high schools.
ROCORI ELEMENTARY SUCCESS
At the elementary level, the ROCORI School District is experiencing MMR success and growth. The Department of Education has specific labels for various categories of schools—particularly those that receive federal funds for Title I services. In the ROCORI District, the three elementary school sites receive Title I funds and, therefore, fall under the various labels from the state.
The John Clark Elementary School (Rockville) was recognized, for the second consecutive year, as a Rewards School. The Rewards School status is the highest recognition the state offers as recognition for high performing schools. To earn this recognition, it means that the school has high levels of proficiency, appropriate student growth across the student population occurs, and the achievement gap is being addressed. Congratulations to the JCE staff for consistent high performance.
At Richmond Elementary School, the building was recognized as a Celebration Eligible School. This is the next level of performance in the state process. Celebration Eligible schools have performance that is also exemplary but one or more of the measurement elements is slightly lower than that of a Rewards School. There is a little more “work to do,” but as the title of the recognition suggests, the performance is still at a level to celebrate!
Cold Spring Elementary School continues to show progress and improvement as a school site. It has demonstrated good levels of proficiency and has strong marks in student growth, however, the site has a harder time with closing the achievement gap. In part, this is due to the nature of Cold Spring Elementary School.
Because it is our largest building, it also houses our special programs and larger populations of special needs, English Language learners, and students affected by poverty measures. Generally, students in these categories have a more difficult time in school and require more educational resources, support and assistance. While the other measures continue to show steady progress, we need, as a district, to ensure that we more effectively close the achievement gap.
Congratulations are extended across the elementary schools for the continued performance, progress and growth that is demonstrated. The Rewards and Celebration status at Rockville and Richmond must certainly be recognized, but the work at Cold Spring Elementary has also been of a high quality!
The secondary level is measured in much the same way as the elementary schools. ROCORI Middle School does not receive Title I funds so it does not receive the same “rating” names as the elementary schools, but it is measured on the same three core criteria—proficiency, growth, and achievement gap. The Senior High, however, has the graduation rates included in its measures of performance.
This last year was very successful in performance at the Middle School. If RMS had been a “Title I” school, it would have likely earned Reward Status—just like John Clark Elementary School! The MMR indicators for the Middle School were very similar to those of JCE!
This was significant progress for our middle school program. A year ago, the measures showed a performance at 48% achievement in the MMR. This year, the building moved to 77% performance—a pretty dramatic improvement with focused efforts throughout the building!
At the Senior High—which does not have Title funds or labels, either—the standard of performance continues to be very high. We have a very strong graduation rate and the academic measures are quite strong as well.
The high school MMR rating (all four measures—proficiency, growth, achievement gap, and graduation rate) came out at 87.72%. The focused proficiency rating for the site, which is a slightly different way to look at the information, was 83.9%. Both of these ratings are the highest ratings of the schools around us!
As comparison to the RHS score of 87.72%, the MMR rating for Sartell-St. Stephen HS is 77.12%. Eden Valley-Watkins has MMR rating of 74.13%. Sauk Rapids-Rice is at 71.88%. Albany came in at 59.53%; St. Cloud Tech at 46.16%, Kimball at 41.75% and St. Cloud Apollo at 23.84%.
On the focused proficiency rating (RHS at 83.9%), Sauk Rapids-Rice came in at 77.84% followed by EV-W at 73.51%, Albany at 72.27%, Sartell-St. Stephen at 71.03%, Apollo at 21.2%, Tech at 15.94% and Kimball at 14.56%.
This is the second consecutive year that RHS has ranked at the top of our neighbors and the third straight year of very high performance!
Again, the secondary does not have the same labels as the elementary schools may earn, but the Middle School and High School performed very well and would earn ratings in the highest categories!
Congratulations to our students, school staff, and each of our buildings! Although we still have work to do across the district, we can be proud of what we have accomplished and the direction we are taking!
Our mission statement expresses that the ROCORI School District will be Central Minnesota’s public education standard of excellence. Clearly, in the manner in which the state of Minnesota measures student performance, we are well on our way to reaching that standard!