Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

MCA math scores in ML take a 'dive'

Math, reading goals not met, science scores above average


October 18, 2018

The data from last spring MCA tests were presented to the Moose Lake School Board at the monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 15.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t meet the goals for math and reading,” said High School Principal Billie Jo Steen. “The scores took a little bit of a dive in math. But the science scores in grades five, eight and 10 were above average.”

She said the state average was 57 percent in math, and the average for Moose Lake was 41.8.

The score for grade 11 was very low at 25 percent compared to a state average of 47.1.

“Some of the kids said they weren’t going to take the test,” said Steen. “There had been a teacher in St. Paul who had said the students didn’t have to take the test. That trickled down into our kids. That’s a good indicator that it pays to look at more than one part of the data. Kids have to take this seriously, it could require them to take a remedial course in college.”

Board member Jamie Jungers was appalled at the news.

“It makes me sick that our kids would do that,” he said. “Every one of those kids’ parents should be notified and told what that means. We’re better than this.”

Steen reported the parents do receive information about the test scores.

Jungers replied that the parents of those students should be spoken with.

Steen said that, typically, by the time the students graduate, they are doing really, really well. It had never been an issue before.

Reading scores were below state average but closer to state average than math had been.

However, the scores were above state average in grades seven at 58.5 compared to the state average of 55.1, and in grade 10 at 71.4 compared to the state average of 59.0.

Steen reported that the science test scores were above state average in all of the grades tested.

“This is an area of celebration,” she said.

The graduation rate is looked at over a three-year average, said Steen.

“We typically do really well compared to the state average,” she added. “The consistent attendance is 90 percent. We are a little bit low because of special education attendance. Our special education attendance is lower than the state special education average.”

She added there are 38 special education students in the three grades tested.

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko reported about the elementary test scores.

“One of the biggest celebrations is in fifth grade science,” he said.

The test scores were divided up into four categories noted by color. Each category was tested in the fall, in the winter and in the spring to see if there was any improvement.

In many of the cases in each area tested, there was very little or no improvement, according to the data displayed.

"Grade one was consistently low throughout the year,” Konietzko said.

Reading scores were more volatile, where math scores were fairly consistent, he added.

“I think that we have a good grasp on the direction we want to go with reading,” he said. “We know that it is a tough curve. Everyone is taking it seriously.”

Each of the courses has standards to meet.

“Generally, we need to look at the standards alignment,” said Steen.

Paul Olson added that what was tested wasn’t what the students had yet been taught.

“It’s all about timing,” he said. “We changed how we were doing chemistry. We were doing it later, now we are doing it earlier. We are blindly trying to figure out what is on the test.”

Board member Kris Lyons agreed.

“We haven’t been teaching to the test,” she said. “It is very frustrating.”

The Professional Learning Community (PLC) is taking notice.

“They are looking at test questions and standards,” said Steen. “It is changing.”

Steen reported that the ACT scores were very good.

“We are very excited about that,” she said.

The scores were listed for each year beginning in 2014. The 2018 scores were the highest in each of the four categories of English, mathematics, reading and science that they had been in those years. The composite score was 22, compared to a state average of 21.3.

The ACT score is an indication of how well the students are prepared for college-level work, according to the ACT report.

Steen said anyone can ask for the data by contacting the school.

Olson reported Knowledge Bowl did very well in competition in Mountain Iron that day. The sixth grade student groups took third and fourth place.

When it came to approving a three-year contract with Superintendent Robert Indihar, the board was split. The motion failed with a 3-3 vote. Jungers, Lyons and Jerry Pederson voted against the three-year contract, and Julie Peterson, Lisa Anderson-Reed and Steve Blondo voted for the contract, as had been the recommendation of the committee.

The three board members who voted against the three-year contract said that they would prefer a contract with a shorter term, such as one or two years. They attributed their reasons to the poor test scores, despite Julie Peterson pointing out that a superintendent is evaluated on more than just test scores.

The contract will go back to the committee for further discussion.

The next monthly meeting of the board was set for Monday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. Note time change from the usual 6 p.m. start time.


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