Areas of growth, decline discussed
A report on 2011-12 student achievement results was recently presented to the Mounds View School Board.
Mary Roden, assistant director of assessment and evaluation, visits a School Board meeting each year to report on how students are doing on assessments.
The results shared during the Oct. 9 meeting are from assessments taken by students attending District 621 during the 2011-12 school year.
Regarding the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), Roden said the median performance of each grade level for math and reading is often one to three grade levels above the national norms. This assessment is delivered to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
According to Roden, the percent of students in grades 3-8 who are meeting or exceeding their annual growth target as defined and measured by NWEA MAP is 53.8 percent in math and 57.3 for reading.
Board Chair Jon Tynjala emphasized that the percentages relate to the growth target, which is not a simple score but a different measure of progress.
Roden said the NWEA says that on average, 50 percent of Mounds View students should meet or exceed their annual growth target. The school district’s goal is to get at least 60 percent of its student population to meet the state target.
Reaching 70 percent would be considered in the 99th percentile across the nation, she said. It is not a goal of the district to reach 100 percent, but rather approach 60-70 percent.
Roden said the district has been working on an initiative that focuses on math at the middle school level, which is an area the district is continuing to focus its resources on.
Results from 2011 and 2012 regarding the percentage of students meeting or exceeding their growth target show a dramatic increase at Edgewood from 37.63 percent to 44.21 percent. For Highview, the slight increase is from 47.71 percent to 47.77 percent, and for Chippewa, the slight increase is from 48.23 percent to 48.53 percent.
Roden pointed out that the percent of sixth grade students who are meeting their growth target in math has decreased from 50.6 percent in 2011 to 40.6 percent in 2012, which is an area of concern the district wants to focus on.
The school district is looking at the transition from fifth grade to sixth grade and how best to support students so they can meet or exceed their growth target.
Board member Amy Jones asked about the strategies that are being used to address some of the sixth grade needs.
Roden said instructional coaches were hired last year to work with middle school math teachers. The district is also working with a consultant to build a more formative assessment practices into teachers’ classrooms so they can monitor their students and help them understand and meet goals and objectives.
She also said elementary coaches were hired this year to work on math and help the district better develop the transition from fifth to sixth grade.
Jones asked what Roden would recommend to sixth-grade students’ parents if they are concerned about their child’s match achievement level.
Talking to teachers is always the best place to start, Roden said. Teachers can share data they are gathering that is specific to each student regarding where they are and where they need to grow.
Board member Sandra Westerman asked if the intervention strategies were put into place before the dip in the percent of students meeting their growth target or because of that dip.
Roden said the intervention strategies were implemented in fall 2011 after seeing the data in spring 2011.
“We continue to look at that data and hope for a reaction in the data based on the strategies that we have employed,” she said.
Chair Tynjala said he has been on the School Board for a number of years, and concerns about the transition from fifth to sixth grade have been discussed many times.
“The trend’s going in the wrong direction, and I’m concerned about that,” he said.
The district is looking to address the issue “aggressively,” Roden said.
Supt. Dan Hoverman said that Deputy Supt. Rick Spicuzza has been asked to be directly involved this year in working with that specific problem, which has been of significant concern the last three years.
He said middle school students’ parents throughout the year should be asking their child’s math teacher, dean or principal about the growth that is expected and ask for evidence from teachers regarding how their child is performing in relationship to meeting that target.
“The other thing we’re doing is we’re making it really clear to kids this is where you are and this is where you need to be, because they obviously need to understand this and need to know what it can mean for their future,” Hoverman said, adding that goals are being set for each teacher for each course they’re teaching.
“We will be better at this,” he said. “We are going to bend the curve in the desired direction.”
The School Board is expected to discuss the issue at a work session in late February and April with updated data.
“It is unacceptable, and we’re learning more and more about it, but it’s a stubborn problem,” Hoverman said. “Some elements of this are statewide, some elements of this are national, but we need to take care of our own business.”
Regarding the percent of students meeting their growth target in reading, Roden said similar strategies are being used to address the same concerns.
Roden also spoke about results of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) in math, reading and science.
The MCA-Series III in math was delivered to grades 3-8 and 11th grade.
Grades 3-8 took the test for a second year, which is more rigorous and aligned with higher standards designed to prepare all students to be career and college ready, Roden said.
Mounds View showed a 3-percent increase in students who were proficient from the previous year. They were allowed to take the test up to three times, and students’ highest score is their proficiency score.
Roden said about 80 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient on the first test. Students who tested proficient did not retest.
The percent of Mounds View students meeting or exceeding proficiency increased at all grade levels.
Roden said 2012 was the last administration for the MCA-Series II in reading, delivered to grades 3-8 and 10th grade. Next year’s administration of the test will be based on a new set of standards.
Mounds View shows a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year, and Mounds View students continue to out perform grade level peers in the state.
Most grade levels show an increase or stay relatively steady in the percent of students who are proficient.
Roden said 2012 was the first administration of the MCA-III science to grades 5 and 8 and high school.
Approximately 66 percent of fifth-graders, 53 percent of eighth-graders and 69 percent of high school students enrolled in Mounds View Public Schools were proficient on the test.
Mounds View students at each level continue to outperform grade level peers in the state.
Roden said the test is not administered to all students across the district. At the high school, the test is given to students who have received access to the life science standards, which includes students – most likely 10th graders – who are involved in biology courses.
“At the high school level, we rank in the top 10 of schools that are similar in size to Mounds View and Irondale as a whole,” she said.
As part of the administration of the MCAs, there is a component built in that looks at students’ proficiency on the test that they must pass to receive a diploma.
Students in ninth grade are delivered the written composition. In 2012, 95.7 percent passed and can retest in 10th, 11th and 12th grade.
The reading component was first administered to 10th grade students and almost 90 percent of students in 2012 tested proficient.
The math component was first administered to 11th grade students and 73.9 percent of students were proficient.
All students who graduate will have passed all three exams.
During the 2010-11 school year, Mounds View Public Schools became the first district in the state to offer all juniors a free on-site administration of the ACT exam, thanks to a grant from the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation.
“They’ve (the foundation) provided the funding to do this, and it’s really exciting,” Westerman said. “It gives a lot of our kids access who wouldn’t otherwise have it.”
According to Roden, 97 percent of juniors participated in 2010-11 and 99 percent of juniors participated this past April during the 2011-12 school year.
The same opportunity will be offered to juniors April 27, 2013.
In the past, about 75 percent of Mounds View seniors participated in the administration of the ACT. In 2012, approximately 97 percent of students participated.
This year, Mounds View High School seniors Jodie Nghiem, Anna Level, Connor Duffy and Trevor McDonald achieved a score of 36 on the ACT test, the highest score that can be achieved.
To view the full report, go to moundsviewschools.org and click on Meeting Summaries under School Board.