New Ratings System for MN Schools

By KBJR News 1

May 22, 2012 Updated May 22, 2012 at 6:28 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - It's the new rating system for Minnesota schools, and for northland schools.

The results are a mixed bag.

School officials from several districts believe the new system of identifying which schools need improvement will be more thorough than the No Child Left Behind system.

It's a new system for schools in Minnesota and superintendents across the northland say it provides a better look at school performance as a whole.

"The No Child Left Behind legislation was really based on absolutes. That we were looking at all student being at the same level and there was a deadline to get there and the new system allows for a celebration of growth," said Bill Gronseth, superindent of Duluth Schools.

Multiple Measurement Ratings, or MMR, were released for Minnesota schools Tuesday.

While all schools in the state were evaluated with the system, low income schools that receive federal Title one funding were designated as either "reward", "focus" or "priority" institutions.

"We'd been following the data for a while now and putting these interventions in place so it really has been affirming that the work we have been doing has been in the right direction," said Gronseth.

Morgan Park Middle School and Piedmont Elementary were identified as "focus" schools.

Focus schools reflect the 10 percent of Title one schools showing the largest achievement gap for one or more groups of students.

Laura Mac Arthur and Bayview Elementary School in Proctor were classified as priority schools.

"A priority school label means we are in the lower part of Title Schools so we'll be receiving added help from the regional improvement centers that are found in four different areas throughout the state," said John Engelking, superintendent of Proctor Schools.

Teacher evaluations, and learning opportunities for staff, and in some cases the replacing of staff must now happen in schools classified as focus and priorities schools.

"Although we're not really pleased about being rated a priority school we are apprehensive and optimistic about the changes that will take place as a result of the added resources that are going to come to our school," said Engelking.

The highest performing Title One Schools were classified and recognized with the reward title.

"We weren't sure what these measures were going to be showing. We were excited that there was going to be a new form of rating schools around the state. Just overall excited to see where we laid out and how things were looking here at Winterquist," said Brian Harker, principal at Winterquist Elementary School.

Winterquist Elementary School in Esko took a reward title, the highest ranking available to low income school but school officials say their work is far from over.

"We're always trying to professionally be better educators and do what we need to do to meet the needs of our kids. We always prioritize those things and we're feeling be pretty good about what we are doing right now but there is always room for growth and that is where we want to go," said Harker.

The new MMR system looks at proficiency, student growth, and achievement gap reduction and graduation rates.

Several non Title One Schools in Duluth received other high ratings.
Nettleton and Lester Park ranked in the top 25 percent in growth and achievement gap reduction.

Homecroft was in the top 10 percent in the same categories.
Congdon was in the top 5 percent for growth.

While Congdon Park, Lakewood, Lowell, Lester Park, Woodland and East all were rated in the top 1 percent for proficiency.

Both East and Central High Schools were in the top 1 percent for graduation rates as well.