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District scores 'on track'

The Minnesota Department of Education publicly released this year's Minnesota Assessment results Tuesday. For Red Wing School District, the scores are generally good news, Director of Teaching and Learning Joe Jezierski said.

"We're right on track with what we're teaching statewide," Jezierski said.

Red Wing third- through 11th-graders took the standardized tests in reading, math and science last spring. In 2011, the state began implementing a newer version of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment. The newer MCA-III test scores can't be compared to the older MCA-11 tests, Jezierski said.

This means, he continued, that there is not enough data to calculate student improvement over previous years. Instead, the results will be used to evaluate instruction materials.

"We will use this data to look at overall curriculum in the district," he said.

So far, the results show that Red Wing School District is about where it should be. In general, most of Red Wing's scores exceeded the state average. That, district assessment coordinator Jill Rivard said, is the goal.

For example, with 66.3 percent of sixth-graders proficient in math, the district soared above the state average of 57 percent. And with 65.5 percent of eighth-graders proficient in reading, Red Wing was well above the state average of 54.1 percent.

"Ultimately, I see this as a positive sign ... that we're on the right track," Jezierski added.

Only in a few areas — grade 5reading and grade five math — did Red Wing's numbers dip below the state's numbers. In reading, only 54.4 percent of Red Wing fifth-graders were proficient, compared to 63.8 percent statewide. In math, 55.8 percent of the district fifth-graders — and 60 percent statewide — were proficient.

What's more, some areas that were trouble spots for the district in the past have improved. In 2012, eighth-grade math scores were below the state average. This year, they show that 62 percent of Red Wing students are proficient, compared to only 59 percent statewide.

"Grade 8 was a concern for a few years and this year we did well," Rivard said.

"We're hoping that will be a trend," Jezierski added. "It's definitely a bright spot.

Still, both Jezierski and Rivard said while they're pleased with the scores, they'd like to see numbers improve in the future.

"That's not to say we're thrilled with the data," Jezierski said. "It's hard to say we're happy with 48 percent of students proficient (in science)," he said. "There's still work to do."

The MCA scores are used to determine each school's Multiple Measurement Rating, which the state will release in October, Rivard said. MMR is Minnesota's replacement for the federal Adequate Yearly Progress; it was implemented last year when the state received a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

The MMR uses test data to measure student proficiency, student growth, achievement gap closure and graduation rate.

Looking forward, the district will use the test data in the next couple of weeks to help determine which students may need extra help or enrichment. Parents will get individual students' results in October, Rivard said.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.