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Area schools receive mixed ratings under new system

District 88 superintendent happy with overall local results

August 30, 2012
By Kremena Spengler - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - Area schools reported a mixed bag of results today, as the Minnesota Department of Education released multiple measurement ratings based on data from 2011-12.

Nicollet Elementary and Wabasso Secondary Schools were named "reward" schools, and several others were deemed "celebration eligible," including Comfrey Elementary and Secondary, Sleepy Eye Elementary, Springfield Elementary, Wabasso Elementary, Cedar Mountain Elementary, Red Rock Central Elementary, and Redwood Area Elementary.

Madelia Elementary and Secondary, and Lafayette Charter Schools were listed among "continuous improvement" schools.

Additional "labels" assigned by the state include "priority" and "focus."

What labels mean

Most of the labels are based on a combination of four measures: student proficiency in reading and math; student growth from year to year; reduction of the achievement gap between majority students and specific other student groups (low-income, minority, etc.); and graduation rate.

Fact Box

SchoolMMR* RatingFocus Rating**Designation
New Ulm Jeffersonn.a.n.a.
New Ulm Washington21.74%56.67%
New Ulm High School68.87%79.56%
Nicollet Elementary83.30%84.95%Reward
Nicollet Secondary22.59%56.85%
Sleepy Eye Elementary70.84%71.41%Celebration eligible
Sleepy Eye Secondary59.29%28.29%
Springfield Secondary79.84%81.01%
Springfield Elementary62.64%76.43%Celebration eligible
Madelia Elementary15.47%13.98%Continuous improvement
Madelia Secondary18.31%18.79%Continuous improvement
Lafayette Charter21.64%n.a.Continuous improvement
Red Rock CentralSecondary93.66%96.39%
Red Rock Central Elementary74.75%94.48%Celebration eligible
Sibley East Arlington Elementary13.46%55.02%
Sibley East Arlington Senior High93.48%94.35%
Sibley East Gaylord Elementary50.23%67.66%
Sibley East Gaylord Junior High68.69%74.10%
GFW Elementary44.25%61.12%
GFW Middle43.77%54.73%
GFW Senior High18.55%10.68%
Comfrey Secondary62.93%97.40%Celebration eligible
Comfrey Elementary61.91%n.a.Celebration eligible
Redwood Valley Senior41.97%57.81%
Redwood Valley Elementary65.74%78.53%Celebration eligible
Redwood Valley Middle68.24%78.60%
Wabasso Elementary55.60%92.57%Celebrationeligible
Wabasso Secondary86.86%87.38%Reward
Cedar Mountain Elementary65.59%66.65%Celebration eligible
Cedar Mountain Secondary19.85%16.69%
* MMR rating: It means multiple measurements rating. It is based on proficiency, growth, success in narrowing the achievement gap between majority and underachieving student groups, and graduation rate.
** Focus rating: it is based on proficiency of underachieving student groups and success in narrowing the achievement gap.

"Reward" schools are those that score among the top 15 percent in the state, and "celebration eligible" schools include the next 25 percent of schools.

Conversely, "priority" schools score in the bottom 5 percent, and "continuous improvement" schools in the bottom 25 percent.

The "focus" rating is a little more specific. It is based on just the proficiency of students in specific groups that tend to under-achieve (minority, low-income, etc.) and a school's success in narrowing the achievement gap between them and the majority of students. This designation applies to the bottom 10 percent of schools.

According to this system, student proficiency is assessed based on statewide reading and math tests. These tests are given most years, starting in grade three.

The ratings are only assigned to schools that receive federal aid to help boost basic skills (Title I aid). This aid is based on the number of low-income students in a school.

In addition, the ratings do not apply to schools whose grade configuration does not allow them to track progress from grade to grade.

In effect, these two qualifications exclude all the New Ulm public schools from the ratings system.

Washington and the High School do not receive federal Title I aid (the Title I program is focused at Jefferson); while Jefferson has just one grade tested (grade three).

However, Superintendent Harold Remme provided the following preliminary observations about local results:

Overall, New Ulm Public School proficiency scores increased in both reading and math compared to 2011.

High school results are "very good." The scores are in the top 80 percent.

Jefferson School students achieved, in both reading and math, at the highest level possible as measured in the process.

District-wide reading scores were at the 78 percent proficiency level. Reading scores at all grade levels tested (3-10) tend to be in the high 70 and mid-80-percent proficiency levels.

District-wide math scores are at the 66-percent proficiency level. Math scores at grade levels tested ranged from the mid-60-percent proficiency to the mid-80-percent proficiency, with grade five being the exception at the 50 percent level. Grade 11 math scores were at the 45 percent proficiency level but consistent with other schools in the region and state. Lower test scores are due to the revised test difficulty level.

Of the four proficiency areas measured in the process, District 88 rates very high in graduation rate.

Both the school district and New Ulm High School are at or above state proficiency averages in math. The New Ulm High School passage rate for the GRAD math test are among the highest in the state.

The district exceeded state average proficiency in reading.



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