William Kelley Elementary among top-performing schools in the state under new rankingsWilliam Kelley Elementary in Silver Bay is listed among the top-performing schools in the state under new student achievement ratings released by the Minnesota Department of Education on Tuesday.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
William Kelley Elementary in Silver Bay is listed among the top-performing schools in the state under new student achievement ratings released by the Minnesota Department of Education on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, four area schools received designations that will require them to make major changes.
Laura MacArthur Elementary School in Duluth and Bay View Elementary School in Proctor are both listed as “priority” schools, while Piedmont Elementary School and Morgan Park Middle School in Duluth are listed as “focus” schools. That means each is set to work with its district and the state education department to pull together plans for improvement.
On the other end, three area elementary schools were named “reward” schools. Esko’s Winterquist Elementary, Wrenshall Elementary and Silver Bay’s William Kelley are included in the top 15 percent of low-income schools in the state for achievement.
The department released new ratings to gauge student achievement in its attempt to more accurately portray school performance, something that many state officials have said the federally mandated No Child Left Behind law failed to do.
The state applied for and was granted a waiver from mandates such as having 100 percent of its students proficient in reading and math by 2014. The ratings are a result of a new accountability system, and a main goal is to narrow the achievement gap, the disparity between test scores and graduation rates of white students and students of color.
Low-income schools — those that receive federal Title I funding — are the only schools that receive a designation under the new system. Focus schools are considered the 10 percent of Title I schools making the biggest contribution to the state’s achievement gap. Priority schools are the 5 percent most persistently low-performing Title I schools.
The new system takes into account school performance in three or four categories: proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and, in the case of high schools, graduation rate. Another measure, the focus rating, gauges proficiency and growth of minority students and those receiving special services, such as English language learners, special education students and those receiving free or reduced-price lunch.
Focus and priority schools must make changes that could include evaluations of teachers, principals and how time is spent during schools, along with providing learning opportunities for staff or, as an extreme example, replacing teachers and principals. Reward schools get recognition for their achievements and are examples for other schools to study and learn from.
The new ratings came from a combination of testing data from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, so the data isn’t new. But it has been packaged in a different way, said Sam Kramer, who works with federal programs for the state education department.
“The achievement gap reduction measurement is completely new,” he said, and growth scores are broken down in a deeper way.
The data for the 70 percent of schools that received no designation is still valuable and will be used, several local superintendents said Monday.
Duluth Superintendent Bill Gronseth said intervention work began nearly two years ago on the three designated Duluth schools, but now even more resources will be aimed at them. He’s hopeful 2012 scores will show improvements from that work.
Proctor Superintendent John Engelking said he looks forward to working with the state on increasing student growth at Bay View.
Adequate yearly progress will still be reported this summer because it’s required by state law and it offers another measurement of achievement, Kramer said. Minnesota now has a No Child Left Behind goal of reducing the achievement gap by half in six years in lieu of the 100 percent proficiency goal.
Coming Wednesday: More reaction from Northland school officials on the new state ratings.