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Area schools have mixed results on 2009 federal AYP

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Park Rapids, Nevis and Menahga school districts each had areas where they did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009, according to results released by the Minnesota Department of Education this week.

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Statewide, 1,048 schools out of 2,303 didn't make AYP in 2009. The AYP data is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"Every Minnesota student should have the opportunity to receive a quality education," said Alice Seagren, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education. "While NCLB needs to be fixed, it has focused much-needed attention on preparing every student for success after high school."

AYP is a means of measuring, through standards and assessments, the achievement of the NCLB goal of 100 percent proficient by 2014. AYP is structured to ensure that all children have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.

Park Rapids

In Park Rapids, Century Middle School didn't make AYP while the elementary and high school did.

"We fell short in math and that's consistent with what we were expecting after the preliminary test results," said Superintendent Glenn Chiodo.

AYP is determined for the entire school as well as subgroups including special education and economically disadvantaged students as measured by participation in free and reduced-price meals. Schools make AYP if the students in these subgroups meet the targets for the percent of students meeting or exceeding the standards on the state assessments in reading and mathematics as well as meeting the participation and the attendance or graduation requirements.

In Park Rapids, special education and free/reduced lunch students did not make AYP. This resulted in the district as a whole not making AYP.

Park Rapids administrators and teachers have already been looking at ways to improve on testing in the future.

"We will continue to evaluate the curriculum and work on those areas," Chiodo said. "We're committed to improving."

Chiodo notes that the test scores don't tell the entire story.

"It's a snapshot of a group of students and doesn't give you all the information," he said.

The tests change from year to year so there isn't a way to compare either, Chiodo added.

"Nonetheless, we want to look at how we're teaching and make improvements," he said.

Nevis

The Nevis School District was designated as having achieved AYP, with the elementary also reaching the federal No Child Left Behind goal.

The high school, however, did not due to a subset of high school special education math students not meeting the standards, superintendent Steve Rassier explained.

Overall, students in grades seven through 12 met AYP, he said.

"Last year's testing went well in Nevis," he said, in comparison to "the large number of schools who didn't meet AYP standards.

"We feel good about that. Teachers take this seriously. And most of the kids do too. It's high stakes testing," Rassier said.

Menahga

The Menahga School District didn't make AYP this year.

Elementary students didn't make AYP while secondary students did, however, the results weren't strong enough for the entire district to make AYP.

"If the high school would've been really, really strong, then we would've made AYP," said superintendent Mary Klamm.

The only area of concern is students of special education, she added. All other categories made AYP.

Target rates are raised every year, which makes it difficult for students of special education to make AYP.

"If you take a look at those rates for the elementary and the district levels, 70 percent of students of special ed need to be proficient at grade level," Klamm said. "That's pretty tough."

To make improvement, Menahga School scheduled four early-out days for staff development. There will also be a math specialist working with special education teachers to help improve instructional practices.

"Even though those expectations are high, we understand that in order to improve we need to improve our instructional practices," Klamm said.

Over the last several years, Minnesota has stepped up its efforts to improve its system of education by improving teacher quality and career and college readiness.

"These results should be a guide as Minnesota moves forward with its efforts to create a 21st century system of education," Commissioner Seagren said.

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