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Changes coming to tests in Park Rapids

By Anna Erickson

Several legislative updates will mean changes to statewide testing and graduation assessment requirements. In Park Rapids, principals are working to modify testing at Century and the high school to reflect those changes.

Century assistant principal Shawn Andress outlined the assessments for grades 3-8 at Monday’s Park Rapids Area School Board meeting.

The Title I section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires all public school students be assessed in grades 3-8 and once in high school. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and alternative assessments (MCA-Modified and MTAS) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility criteria may take the MCA-Modified or the MTAS.

Currently, grades 3-8 are being tested in mathematics and reading each year. Grades 5 and 8 have science testing and grade 8 has the ACT Explore test. Optional Local Purpose Assessment (OLPA) may also be used for testing.

Several changes to assessments in grades 3-8 are starting after this school year.

This is the last year for districts to administer the reading MCA test with paper/pencil. This is also the last year to administer the MCA-Modified tests.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, new assessments will be administered for grade 8 and high schoolers.

This year, a new social studies curriculum is being administered, Andress added.

High school students will see even more changes to testing in the next few years.

High school principal Jeff Johnson said the state department wants school to develop a four-year career/college assessment, called “Ramp up to Readiness.”

Overall, Johnson said the changes seem positive.

“It opens things up for kids,” he said.

The grad writing test will now be optional for schools for grade 9.

The MCA II reading test will continue for grade 10 but will not contain the imbedded grad reading questions.

The MCA II math test will continue in grade 11 but it will not contain the imbedded grad math questions. The grade 11 MCA science test will continue (for Park Rapids it moves from grade 10 to grade 11 due to the biology/chemistry change).

What do the changes mean for Park Rapids?

In 8th grade, students will take the ACT Explore test and MCA II testing.

In 9th grade, students in social studies complete the Minnesota Career Information System (MCIS) unit, they review Explore test results and Iseek inventory and all students will take the grad writing test.

In 10th grade, students take the ACT PLAN test and the entire class goes on a college visit to Northwest Technical College. All students will take the MCA II Reading test.

In 11th grade, students take the ASVAB test, MCA II math, MCA II science along with the PSAT, ACT and/or Accuplacer test.

In 12th Grade, students have an optional college fair visit at Bemidji, a financial aid meeting with students and parents, the counselor visits seniors to talk about higher education topics and opportunities and students continue to take the ACT, Accuplacer, SAT and or ASVAB.

Additional options for 11th and 12th grade students are two pre-excused college visits a year and the ability to sign up to visit over 35 college career representatives during the year.

All students grades 9-12 are involved in a program called Student Paths. They are given college/career information (online college/career magazine topics) and are surveyed on related information.

Students will no longer have to complete four years of math, Johnson said. They will still need 72 credits but those kids who struggle with the last year of math will now have the option to take an elective instead, which could have more real world experience for them.

“They could take industrial technology and use more applied math, for example,” Johnson said.

Both Andress and Johnson said more changes will be coming as far as testing and grad standards.

In other business, the board:

n Approved the extra-curricular resignation of Tadd Usher as Head Boys Golf Coach.

n Approved hiring extra-curricular volunteer Leah Hilmanowski for Jr. High Tennis.

n Approved extra-curricular new hire Julianne Kjenaas as Assistant Speech Coach.

n Approve the resignation of Diane Amundson as cooks helper.

n Approved the retirement of Ellen Graves.

n Approved paraprofessional new hire of Ashley Branstrom.

n Approved paraprofessional new hire of Kayla Ehler.

n Approved extra-curricular volunteer Katie Larson as fall/winter play assistant.

n Approved the new hire of Sarah Preiner as cook’s helper.

n Accepted a donation of $2,000 for a hoop house purchase from Catholc Health for the Community Garden.

n Accepted 1,700 pounds of steel valued at $850 from Greg Smith-Broadway Welding for the Welding Department.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561