Moorhead students' test scores dip
After several years of modest gains, Moorhead School District's math and reading test scores slipped this year. State testing, district officials point out, took place after area flooding, which shut down schools and disrupted learning. The Minne...
After several years of modest gains, Moorhead School District's math and reading test scores slipped this year.
State testing, district officials point out, took place after area flooding, which shut down schools and disrupted learning.
The Minnesota Department of Education this week released district results on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which count heavily toward compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law.
If Moorhead doesn't make Adequate Yearly Progress under the law this year, Superintendent Lynne Kovash said, it might appeal that outcome because of the flooding.
Most area districts made slight gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient in math and reading. Test results held a few bracing success stories. Breckenridge, for instance, scored a 12 percent jump in math proficiency.
Statewide, proficiency improved slightly or leveled out in most grades. The Education Department predicted gains would not keep pace with rising targets as districts work toward a goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014.
"Although we're seeing mostly improved performance," said Deputy Education Commissioner Chas Anderson, "we do expect more schools will find themselves on the list of not making AYP."
The MCAs test grades three through eight and 10th in reading and in grades three through eight and 11th in math.
In Moorhead, 65 percent of students across grades scored proficient in math and 72 in reading - a 5 percent and 3 percent drop from last year, respectively. Across the state, 64 percent of students scored proficient in math and 72 in reading.
Moorhead students in grades three through five lagged behind state averages in both subjects, while those in later grades scored ahead. As the state as a whole, the district grappled with a wide achievement gap: Minority students and those qualifying for free and reduced lunch trailed their peers, occasionally by more than 30 percentage points.
Kovash said the district has compiled information that would help it appeal its AYP listing: 70 percent of students were affected by the flood, and all missed about two weeks of school in March, less than a month before testing.
The district, which didn't make AYP last year, finds out how it did later this week, Anderson said. AYP results will become public in early August.
"Our staff has been working as hard as ever." Kovash said. "I would not be concerned about a little slippage. I would be concerned if that trend continues."
In Breckenridge, math proficiency rose from 56 percent last year to 68 percent in 2009. Raising scores had been a top goal of interim Superintendent Warren Schmidt, who hired a curriculum director to, among other things, ensure math teachers across grades pick up where colleagues leave off.
"We did a lot of overhauling last summer," Schmidt said. "Now we have more of a team approach."
Barnesville made slight gains in both reading and math, cementing its status as a reading leader in the area with 81 percent proficiency. High school Principal Bryan Strand said a long-standing emphasis on the subject is paying off.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529