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K-12 Notebook column: Math scores catch eyes of educators

Recently released math test scores for Fargo and West Fargo public school seniors have raised the eyebrows of some local educators. The tests, given in March, measured reading and math skills of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders in North Dakota. ...

Recently released math test scores for Fargo and West Fargo public school seniors have raised the eyebrows of some local educators.

The tests, given in March, measured reading and math skills of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders in North Dakota.

In most areas, scores of Fargo and West Fargo public school students were very close, except 12th-grade math. Forty-five percent of Fargo seniors met or exceeded minimum expectations. In West Fargo, 35 percent of seniors did so.

Were Fargo seniors, as a group, really that much better in math? Or was something else responsible?

Some educators wonder if the Fargo average was inflated because many of its seniors didn't take the test.

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State law required at least 95 percent of students to take the test. The Fargo district fell well short of that rate, said Chuck DeRemer, assistant superintendent of instruction. He's not sure yet of the exact number.

DeRemer acknowledged that some districts are skeptical of Fargo's results, but said the results should be fairly representative of Fargo seniors.

No doubt some who failed to take the test were "A" students, he said.

In West Fargo, district officials "bent over backward" to make sure virtually all its seniors took the test, said Louise Dardis, assistant superintendent.

Because the tests were new this year, Fargo School District isn't likely to get in trouble for failing to reach the 95 percent rate, DeRemer said.

But the district will reach that threshold in the future, he said.

Spuds with hearts

Moorhead High's student council has started raising money for 11-year-old Rachel Torgerson of Moorhead.

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The St. Joseph Catholic School student received a liver transplant as a baby.

Tests show her new liver has started to fail and she'll need a second liver transplant in the future.

Spuds student council adviser Chuck Fisher said his students want to raise $1,000 to help Rachel.

"This effort tells me the kids care about their own and they want to help," Fisher said Thursday.

"For as long as I've taught in Moorhead, there's always been some effort to try to help other people," he said.

Students are collecting money at class and lunch and holding contests to see who can raise the most money.

For more information or to donate to the fund-raiser, call Fisher at (218) 284-2483.

To Russia with gloves

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Students at Park Christian School in Moorhead have sent warm wishes -- along with $1,888 -- to Russia.

The money will be used to buy winter gloves, hats, boots and jackets for orphans living near Kursk, Russia.

"Kids can relate to other kids, and our students wanted to help these children in Kursk anyway they could," said Barbara Eyler, a music teacher at Park Christian.

Students collected money by selling cookies and emptying their piggy banks.

Eyler said the money should reach the Kursk orphanage before Christmas.

Nice numbers

The taxable valuation of property in the West Fargo School District rose from $43 million in 1996-97 to $68 million in 2001-2002 -- an increase of 53 percent.

In Fargo School District, the taxable valuation rose from $117.7 million in 1996-97 to $157.4 million in 2001-2002 -- an increase of 34 percent.

Improv show

The Donkey Hotey's Improvcicles, Fargo South High School's improvisation group, will perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the school auditorium.

Admission is $2 at the door, $1 for people wearing "Superfan" T-shirts.

Knowledge masters

Students at Moorhead Junior High finished first in Minnesota and eighth in the nation in the Fall Knowledge Master Open Dec. 4.

Forty-one Minnesota teams and 851 middle schools nationwide competed in the academic contest.

Members of the team were: Alison Aadland, Mia Bonitto, Andrew Chen, Cameron Dailey-Ruddy, Loghman Fattahi, Peter Flom, Jeremy Holm, Nick Holschuh, Reed Langerud, Jacob Lundborg, Caroline Moos, Jayce Schmidt, Harrison Suits Baer, Melissa Theige and Sebastian Wai.

Lois Brown serves as the team's adviser.

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