— The second round of Multiple Measurements Ratings was released by the Department of Education today, and more area schools fell in the middle of the pack compared to results released in May.
Click here for rankings of Mankato regional schools
The spring results were based on assessment criteria from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years to establish a baseline for growth comparisons with the new state accountability system, which focuses on student growth.
Under the Multiple Measurements Rating, schools are judged individually based on students’ scores in reading and math, but academic growth, graduation rates and closing the achievement gap also factor in equally.
Results in May showed four of six eligible schools in the Mankato Area Public School District and one Nicollet school were designated as top performers, labeled as Reward Schools (the top 15 percent of Title I schools in the state).
For the 2011-12 school year, only one Mankato elementary school was labeled a Reward School: Washington Elementary.
However, several were designated Celebration Eligible — Kennedy, Jefferson and Rosa Parks. Celebration schools are the next 10 percent of schools below Reward Schools, but schools have to apply for the designation, which is why they now are listed only as being eligible for the designation.
Washington Principal Will Remmert said he couldn’t be happier to learn the news Wednesday about the school’s designation.
“It’s a testament to what our staff and our families and our students are doing to meet the needs of every individual,” he said. “It tells us we’re on the right track, but really we haven’t met the needs of everyone yet. We’re trying to.”
St. Peter North Intermediate Elementary also was listed as a Reward School, a designation the school didn’t receive previously. Supt. Jeff Olson said the progress is the result of a lot of hard work by North the past year.
“They put forth a tremendous effort last year to focus on the whole process of identifying learning goals and meeting those standards,” Olson said. “What we’ve really try to focus on is good teaching and learning strategies, and if you do that, we believe the rest of the measurements will take care of themselves.”
Cindy Amoroso, Mankato director of curriculum instruction, said she views the results as just one piece of assessment criteria the district uses.
“This is still one measure,” she said. “This does not define us as a district, nor does it define a school. ... We are not using the results to compare buildings.”
Because the MMR system is so multi-faceted, Amoroso said it’s too early to determine what criteria led to the loss of several designated Reward Schools. It’s possible the schools performed just as well on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests or even better than previous years, for example. But if other schools in the state perform better, they may edge out others in the top 15 percent.
“It’s like reshuffling the deck every year,” Amoroso said. “We’re learning it as we go like everybody else.”
Numerous southern Minnesota schools were given the designation of Celebration Eligible, and many also were designated Continuous Improvement Schools, which are the bottom 25 percent in the state.
St. James Northside Elementary received a 25.79 percent MMR score, which resulted in a Priority School designation. Priority Schools are the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools in the state, and 42 schools statewide received the designation.
Continuous Improvement, Priority and Focus schools are required to write and implement a turnaround plan and must set aside 20 percent of their Title funding to support their improvement efforts.
St. James Supt. Becky Cselovszki couldn’t be reached for comment before press time.
Mankato East Junior High had a 12.09 percent MMR score. But the school does not receive Title I funding, so it cannot receive an MMR designation. Principal Richard Dahman said the school’s goal is for every student to be proficient.
Dahman said there will be no change to curriculum, but the school is implementing a focused literacy plan that will map state standards. The plan is being put into action at the start of the school year.
Dahman said targeted intervention programs also are used for students who perform below grade level. Dahman said the school will dive into the MMR data during the next few weeks and identify where necessary growth is occuring and where it isn’t.
Gwen Walz, Mankato Schools assessment coordinator, said in May that the MMR system provides a bigger picture. But she said the results are still based on the same singular test score on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test.
“MMR is a much more comprehensive look at what’s really happening in a school,” Walz said. “It’s a step better. But it’s still based on one test on one day. ... One test can’t be all things to all people.”