The Park Rapids School Board received a report on Dec. 2 about the school district’s performance last year regarding the Minnesota Department of Education’s World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) standards, and approved a WBWF plan for 2019-20.

Sixth-grade teacher Gabe Sturtz presented the 2018-19 report and 2019-20 plan. The “five cornerstones” of WBWF, he said, are for all students entering kindergarten to meet school readiness goals, for third graders to meet two literacy goals, closing the achievement gap, providing college and career readiness activities, and improving graduation rates.

Regarding last school year, Sturtz reported:

  • The goal was for the percentage of pre-K students who were ready to transition into kindergarten to grow from 39 in September to 80 percent at the end of the school year. Sturtz said the actual results of this assessment were not available as of Dec. 2.

  • They also had trouble retrieving results for the third-grade literacy goals because Century Elementary School switched assessment programs last year. “We printed off all of the scores that we could, and the score that we needed, we didn’t have,” he said.

  • Last year’s STAR Assessments show that 40.3 percent of third-graders made a full year’s growth in reading comprehension during the school year. Meantime, the third graders surpassed the school’s reading fluency goal to increase the number of students reading at least 119 words per minute by 8 percent. In fact, that number of students went from 18.9 percent in the fall to 61.2 percent in the spring.

  • For closing the achievement gap, there were four goals relating to math and reading – two each for special education and grade-reduced students. “We were not able to reach those goals on any of those,” said Sturtz.

  • Regarding career and college readiness, the goal for 90 percent of high school students to meet with the community career collaboration coordinator (4C) was achieved with 93 percent. Another goal, for 85 percent of 11th graders to take either the ASVAB, ACT or ACCUPLACER tests, was met with 91 percent.

  • The high school fell short of its goal for a four-year graduation rate of 83 percent; the actual rate was 73 percent. Sturtz said he would check on whether this figure was for the whole district or only the high school.

Regarding the district’s WBWF goals for 2019-20, Sturtz said:

  • The school readiness goal is staying the same, for 80 percent of students transitioning to kindergarten next fall having the skills needed to succeed by the end of this school year.

  • For third-grade literacy, the school will be using Fastbridge assessments this year, with similar goals. The reading comprehension goal is for the number of students reading at benchmark level or above to increase from 59 to 80 percent. In reading fluency, the percentage reading at or above benchmark should increase from 61 to 80 percent.

  • For closing the achievement gap, Fastbridge will also be used this year to assess both math and reading. The goal will be for 70 percent of students in grades 5-8 to achieve a full year’s growth from fall to spring.

  • For career and college readiness, the goals will again be for 85 percent of 11th graders to take an ASVAB, ACT or ACCUPLACER test and for 90 percent of high school students to take part in a postsecondary activity with the 4C.

  • Graduation goals will be a four-year graduation rate of 80 percent and a seven-year graduation rate of 87 percent.

Board member Gary Gauldin asked whether adequate steps are being taken to ensure these goals are met.

Century Middle School Principal Shawn Andress said it will help that this is the first year that there has been a consistent assessment tool – Fastbridge – used across the board for K-8.

“I do believe we have a stronger way of knowing where kids are at and where we project their growth to be,” she said, adding that the school has added staff positions, such as the Achievement in Integration and ADSIS math interventionists, and has an Alternative Learning Center for fifth and sixth graders “catching them younger.”

Board member Stephanie Carlson moved approval of the 2019-20 WBWF plan. The motion passed without dissent.