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Continued: 27 Minnesota schools shed low-performance labels

  • Article by: KIM MCGUIRE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 1, 2013 - 11:25 PM

Many schools saw significant fluctuations — increases or decreases of 50 percentage points or more — on their scores, prompting questions about how they are calculated.

Cassellius chalked up some of the fluctuations to the fact that MMR scores are influenced by the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which were based on tough new reading standards this year.

“Any time a new test based on new standards is given, we can expect to see variations,” she said.

‘We’ve transformed’

Five years ago, the tiny A.C.G.C. district was in statutory operating debt. Test scores were lagging. And the district adopted a four-day school week to save money.

Tuesday’s rankings show that A.C.G.C.’s elementary school had one of the biggest MMR gains — almost 80 points on a 100-point scale. Its fifth- and sixth-grade students posted a similar jump.

Broderius said the turnaround is a result of teachers embracing data to improve student instruction; implementing co-teaching; and using the district’s “off day” for intensive planning.

“We’ve transformed,” she said. “We’re not the same district we were even three years ago.”

Minneapolis sees success

Minneapolis saw several schools boost their MMR scores, including a few that shed the Priority and Focus designations. Besides Edison, they include Wellstone International High School and Kenny Elementary.

Patrick Henry High School increased its MMR score from 60 to 80 points and earned a Reward school designation.

“I would say that foundationally, we’ve developed a culture where every student’s greatness is seen and appreciated,” said Principal LaTanya Daniels.

Edison was the first school in Minnesota to receive a visit from Cassellius, who is seeking input from successful schools about turnaround strategies

Sheridan Hills in Richfield is now a “Celebration Eligible” school because of its gains, most notably among students learning English.

“It’s a huge psychological boost, a huge esteem boost for us,” Markworth said.


Kim McGuire • 612-673-4469

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  • Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, center, listened to Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, right. Edison Principal Carla Steinbach is second from right.

  • What do the new mmr school ratings mean?

    The MMR labels apply to schools that receive federal Title I funding. They are:

    “Priority”: Lowest-performing 5 percent. Must set aside 20 percent of Title I money for improvement plan that must be approved by the state Education Department. 25 schools.

    “Focus”: The 10 percent of schools with the poorest showing in reducing the gap in achievement and improving the performance of minority students. Must set aside 20 percent of Title I funding for state-approved improvement plan. 74 schools.

    “Continuous Improvement”: Bottom 25 percent. Must write school improvement plan and set aside 20 percent of Title I money to implement it. 87 schools.

    “Celebration Eligible”: Top 10 percent behind “Reward” schools. May apply for statewide recognition. 225 schools.

    “Reward”: Top-performing 15 percent. 131 schools.

    Source: Minnesota Department of Education

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