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Park Rapids developing improvement plan to make AYP in future

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Administrators are meeting to work on increasing student performance on MCA-II testing for Park Rapids students.

The Park Rapids School Board heard an update Monday about progress made on addressing the No Child Left Behind requirement that all schools make adequate yearly progress. Park Rapids was designated as a district in need of improvement because it had not made AYP for the past three years.

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The administrative team, made up of superintendent Glenn Chiodo, principal Bruce Gravalin, principal Al Judson, assistant principal Jeff Johnson and activities director John Schumacher, met last week with consultants from Northwest Service Cooperative.

The team discussed "in depth strategies to improve instruction with the goal of increasing student performance on MCA-II tests," Gravalin said. The areas to be worked on are the reading test and math for special education and free and reduced lunch students.

Key elements of the plan include:

-Data analysis of scores on an individual student basis so teachers can see trends of instruction.

"Our instructors will be able to look at where we're doing well, where we're not doing so well, where we need to improve instruction," Gravalin said.

The staff in grades 5-8 will work with a consultant from Northwest Service Cooperative who will show instructors how to dig into the data, Gravalin said.

-The formation of a professional learning community for grades K-12 to discuss methods of instruction and formative assessments.

"Teachers will be talking to teachers about how to instruct and different ways to improve student learning," Gravalin said.

Students will be formally or informally tested so teachers know that students understand what has been taught, he said.

"We've always had a team time ... when teachers have gotten together to discuss things," Johnson said. "This is taking it a step further and going more in depth where they're really analyzing the data more and talking about their different teaching strategies."

Some special training will be done for grades 6-8 math staff. Gravalin said those grades have had dipping test scores.

The AYP plan will also include reading, Johnson said.

"We're going to start analyzing the scope and sequence of our reading/language arts program," he said.

Other upcoming activities for improving AYP include textbook evaluation for math at Century School to determine what curriculum works best for Minnesota, Gravalin said. Curriculum work will need to be done by March.

At the high school, Judson said math staff began looking at textbooks last year.

"We're in the process in doing an overall planning rather than looking at particular textbooks at this time," Judson said.

A plan to work on improving test scores began before this year. A lot of the work began a year ago but wasn't reflected in the last test scores, Chiodo said.

"Obviously, this year's tests will show some of those changes that have already been made," Chiodo said. "But as a group we're going to stick together on this."

"And the teachers, as well," Johnson added. "The teachers have to be a part of this plan and know what's being asked of them and where we're at."

A committee will meet to finalize a draft of an improvement plan that will be sent to the Minnesota Department of Education. The committee is comprised of all administrators along with representatives of the staff and community. The improvement plan is due for submission to MDE Nov. 10.

In other business, the board:

-Approved the preliminary tax levy for 2009 payable 2010 at $4,838,153.29. This is the maximum levy amount, which the district typically sets for its preliminary levy, said business manager Carol Hutchinson. A final levy will be passed in December.

-Discussed and approved a contract with Region 1 to provide software support for a student services support system for 2009-10. After this year, the district will need to have a new software system in place because the current system will no longer be supported.

-Reviewed pre-K-12 enrollment. Numbers continue to fluctuate a little but are up from last year, Chiodo said.

-Approved the superintendent's contract for 2009-12. The board also approved contracts for the business manager, Community Education director, Facilities Management Association, principal and district office personnel for 2009-11. The contracts were all settled with 0 percent increases.

-Approved the retirement of Josie Niemi as of Sept. 30, 2009.

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