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Report highlights strain on Park Rapids School from pandemic

The World's Best Workforce and Achievement plan came before the Park Rapids School Board for review Dec. 6.

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Disruptions due to COVID-19 hindered students’ academic progress last year, the Park Rapids School Board learned Dec. 6 before approving the schools’ World’s Best Workforce and Achievement and Integration plans for 2021-22.

Jill Stevenson, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, and Krystal Murphy, the high school’s community career collaboration coordinator, reported progress on the six goals of the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plan, based on work by an advisory committee of students, parents, community representatives, school staff and administration.

Murphy said the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) asked the district’s administrators to report how the schools were affected by online learning in 2020-21.

She said they faced similar issues to 2019-20, but with additional school restrictions. Limits on in-person activities resulted in less connections, activities being put on hold or modified, moving to 1:1 technology and online platforms.

Areas impacted, Murphy said, included staff training and curriculum development; assessments and data gathering; student well-being; internet access issues; access to books, devices, food and supplies; and strain on the transportation department.

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World’s Best Workforce

Goal 1, to provide low-income and minority-group students with access to “effective, experienced and in-field” teachers, was met, Stevenson said. This goal for 2021-22 was extended to monitor distribution of teachers, identify equitable access gaps and try to ensure students’ access to teachers who reflect their racial and ethnic diversity.

Goal 2, for 80% of preschool students transitioning to kindergarten to meet or exceed benchmarks in a spring assessment, was met when 91% of the preschoolers showed they had the skills to succeed in kindergarten. Stevenson said he goal for next spring is to grow the percentage of current preschool students who meet or exceed the benchmarks.

Goal 3, for 80% of third-graders to meet or exceed benchmarks in spring assessments of reading comprehension and fluency, was not met. Spring 2021 test results revealed 57% of third-graders were at or above grade level for comprehension, 44% for fluency. Stevenson said this was due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new goal for spring 2022 is 65% for both metrics.

Goal 4, for fifth and eighth grade students to increase their reading and math skills to 75% at or above grade level by spring, was not met, Murphy said. In spring 2021, fifth graders tested at 43% in reading tests and 54% in math, while eighth graders tested at 31% and 58% respectively. Again, this was connected to COVID-19 disruptions. New goals for spring 2022 are for 70% of fifth graders to meet or exceed the benchmark for reading and 71% for math, and for eighth graders to achieve 60% and 61% on the tests.

Goal 5 was for 85% of 11th graders to complete an ASVAB, ACT, or Accuplacer exam or participate in transitional skills planning, and for 90% of high school students to participate in post-secondary activities guided by Murphy. She said the goals were met at 86% and 100% respectively, although Accuplacer wasn’t offered and ASVAB could only be taken in-person at a time when students were attending classes online.

Goal 6 was for an 80% four-year graduation rate in 2021 and a seven-year rate of 87%. Again, Murphy said, the district was unable to report due to accurate data being unavailable.

Achievement and Integration

Regarding the high school’s Achievement and Integration (A&I) goals, Murphy reported:

  • Goal 1, for all students to complete college and career readiness activities before graduation and for 95% of 11th graders to take one of the exams, is on track for 2022.

  • Goal 2, similar to WBWF goal 3, is not on track due to last spring’s test results, with the new goals for spring 2022 already described.

  • Goal 3 is for 95% of district staff to receive training in Relational, Impactful, Preventative Leadership (RIPL) and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). Staff was unable to report on this goal, since in-person trainings could not be held due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Murphy also discussed Panther Tracks activities, including job shadowing, field trips, guest speakers, mentorship, a career fair last March, a meet and greet for incoming freshmen in May, and implementation of a college and career planning app called Navigator.
Murphy noted that high school staff is redesigning the Panther Tracks program around the “career wheel” model, which recognizes six general career fields, 16-17 career clusters and 81 pathways that align with Navigator and MDE resources.

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She said this translates to “endless opportunities for students with universal programming, common language so that when they transition … to postsecondary education and employment, it allows for extra growth and partnership opportunities for our students to prepare for the future.”

Murphy reported the high school staff was invited to make a presentation about the new Panther Tracks concept at Central Lakes College. “We could be frontrunners on this,” she said. “They want us to pitch this idea, because they want to see if other schools can implement this type of model.”

Board member Stephanie Carlson made a motion to approve the World’s Best Workforce plan for 2021-22, and the motion passed without dissent.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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