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District team to address Park Rapids students' AYP

Park Rapids School Board members heard an update on No Child Left Behind's requirement of all schools making adequate yearly progress (AYP), Park Rapids having been designated as a district "in need of improvement due to not making AYP for the past three years."

Not achieving AYP is determined by aggregating results of academic achievement in reading and language arts and math as well as student participation in assessments, graduation and attendance rates.

Many times, tested subgroups are not large enough to meet the minimum group size at an individual school level, a memo to parents explains.

However, when all of the data is compiled into one report at the district level, the number will, in many cases, reach or surpass the minimum group size at the district level. The district is then identified as not achieving AYP.

A district improvement team will be analyzing the assessment information to pinpoint strengths and challenges.

The middle school will be a primary focus, specifically math. Test results will be organized by "strands" to determine strong and weak points with adjustments made to the curriculum.

"We will be aligning curriculum to state testing," Century School principal Bruce Gravalin told the board, the administration "checking to be sure standards are taught."

The "third quartile" of students has a difficult time with the test, Gravalin said of students who are not classified as "special ed" but in need of assistance.

High school principal Al Judson said the school shouldn't be teaching simply to those not meeting AYP. "We need a holistic picture."

He pointed out the school's ACT test scores exceed both national and Minnesota averages.

"We have our work cut out for us, but there's also some cause for celebration here," Judson said.

Gravalin said seventh grade math has been effectively moved to the sixth grade, which may "cause some frustration." Changes are also being made in the fourth and fifth grade levels.

Board member Karol Savage cited the Plummer school district, where test scores turned around in a year's time. She suggested contacting Plummer administrators for suggestions.

"We will be working on curriculum continually," Gravalin assured her.

Board member Gary Gauldin asked about addressing students who have a handle on math, but not reading.

"The improvement plan will entail parent involvement," Gravalin said.

Board chair Sherry Safratowich asked for updates on a regular basis.

"We will need checks and balances to stay on the path," superintendent Glenn Chiodo said. "We will stay on top of this to keep moving forward."

Gravalin indicated he will be working with teachers on math curriculum; Century assistant principal Jeff Johnson will address reading.

In other action, the board:

-Approved a trip to San Antonio, Texas by the high school choir for national competition in March.

-Learned Community Education's fall brochure will be in the mail by Aug. 29.

-Heard high school fall activities are underway with numbers up in football (58) and volleyball (38). Cross-country has jumped from 12 to 22 participants. Twenty-seven students will be sending tennis balls over the net and swimmers number 22, to date.

"A lot of people are having financial issues, but no kid will not play due to cost," activities director John Schumacher said.

The board, as in past years, approved a resolution to apply to the Minnesota State High School League Foundation for financial support for students in need .

-Approved a coaching reassignment for Josh Cook from ninth grade football to middle school football coach.

Mike Baumgartner will be reassigned from assistant girls tennis coach to ninth grade football coach.