Board applauds high test scores
The Moose Lake School Board gave a standing ovation to administration, staff and students for achieving high MCA test scores and MMR (Multiple-Measurement Ratings) at the meeting of the board on Monday, October 21.
Four fifth and sixth grade teachers gave a report to the board about a program that they have been working on to bring the students up to proficiency in math and reading in those grades.
“We are teaching a new curriculum but the standards are not high enough,” said Trish Rodysill. “The four of us are meeting for a half hour a day to make improvements. When the students are struggling, we back up with good teaching. We bring in different material and work together. It’s been very effective.”
“We are trying to close the gaps,” said Paul Olson. “We’re held accountable to the MCA tests. MAP testing takes time, and it presents some challenges. It does a really good job for the kids on the lower end but there is not enough challenge for the kids in the top group.”
Megan Nielsen and Shelly Olson were present and added their comments.
Paul Olson and Elementary Principal Kraig Koneitzko said that the program has drawn attention from another school district.
“We got a call last spring from International Falls,” said Olson. “They hit the ground running with the program, and then they contacted us this fall after the test scores came out to see how it worked.”
“It’s been a good change,” said Koneitzko. “The kids like it, and the staff likes it. We can meet those needs.”
The board members stood and applauded.
“We applauded you teachers,” said board member Julie Peterson. “You are the stars of the area now. It’s unbelievable!”
Paul Olson concluded that someday they would like to expand that team but it takes a lot of time.
Koneitzko and High School Principal Billie Jo Steen presented a report about data that also showed that the Moose Lake students are performing about the state average or above.
“Every year we have a data retreat with staff,” said Steen. “We look through the data trends and do comparisons across the grade levels. We spend a lot of time and hope to come up with recommendations about how to improve.”
“We are at 77.75 on the MMR over three areas,” said Konietzko. “That put us into the category for a celebration. We had an ice cream social for the elementary students last Tuesday.”
Steen explained that MMR used to be called AYP, Average Yearly Progress.
Koneitzko added that the MMR is based on proficiency, growth and achievement gap reduction. The Moose Lake students met the targeted index numbers, and the high score fell within the 50-80 percentile from throughout all of Minnesota.
“We included the graduation rate,” added Steen. “It’s the highest in the immediate area.”
Board Chair Kris Lyons said that the graduation rate was in the high 90 percent, and that fact should be on all advertising and school reports.
“Fifty percent is average,” added Steen. “We look where our needs might be, and where we can improve. For Special Ed, there are learning disabilities. We have already identified those as Special Ed students; they won’t have the same growth as other students.”
“We’ve fallen into the 15 percent category,” added Konietzko. “Some are mainstreamed; some are not. There is a vast spectrum in the kids.”
Superintendent Robert Indihar pointed out that students that qualify for the free and reduced priced lunches are seen in the test scores.
“We see negative growth for the kids that qualify for free and reduced priced lunches,” said Steen. “We pick apart the data and see where the gaps are. We work with the Math Committee to target some interventions. Overall, more students have higher proficiency than the state average.”
Konietzko said that science scores are not where they want them to be. There is a new science curriculum this year, and the staff is working on the problem.
Steen said that no changes in graduation requirements are going to be made.
“If students are not proficient, we can schedule them into math or reading classes so they can graduate,” she added.
She also said that MCA testing is going to be eliminated. Although it has not yet been announced, it will probably be replaced with ACT testing, a college entrance exam given in the 11th grade to all students.
“Our ACT score has been below the state average,” she said. “The Curriculum Committee is addressing this to see if we can come up with a better plan.”
Konietzko said that some of the improvement goals have been met, and some have not.
“We are doing a good job with Title I,” he added. “We catch problems and do interventions. We are doing a terrific job with that. That meets or exceeds the state average but we are still not there.”
“We don’t want to become complacent because of our high test scores this year,” Steen concluded.
Supt. Indihar congratulated the students and staff for the MMR scores.
In other business, the board approved in expenditures $13,000 for repairs to the baseball field, authorized the superintendent to spend up to $21,000 for much-needed repairs to the roof, and approved the quote from Town and Country Flooring for a new floor in the Family Center in the amount of $9,011.
Two amendments were made to the policies in the Policy Manual.
The addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of students and parents will be removed from the directory, and people using the school building for for-profit activities on weekends will be required to pay a custodial fee.
The next meeting of the board was set for Monday, November 18 at 5 p.m. Note time change.