4 schools fall short of state’s academic progress goalsTwo Farmington schools got some good news this week when the Minnesota Department of Education released its list of schools failing to make adequate academic progress. For four others, though, the news wasn’t so positive.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Two Farmington schools got some good news this week when the Minnesota Department of Education released its list of schools failing to make adequate academic progress. For four others, though, the news wasn’t so positive.
Farmington Elementary School and Akin Road Elementary School both avoided the state’s list of underperforming schools this year after being on the list last year. Farmington High School, both Farmington middle schools and the Dakota Prairie Area Learning Center were all on that list, which is based largely on performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests. FMS East is on the list for the third consecutive year.
Schools are identified as failing to meet academic standards if any single sub-group within the school — special education students, for example, or students who receive free or reduced-price lunches — fails to show enough improvement over the previous year on MCA math or reading tests.
FHS and FMS West were both identified based on the performance of special education students on the MCA math test, FMS East was identified based on the performance of Hispanic students on the MCA reading test and the ALC was identified based on the performance of all students on the math test.
When five Farmington schools made the list of underpeforming schools last year the district put in place a pair of plans meant to improve performance at FMS East and districtwide. Farmington elementary schools began offering before-school classes for students who are behind grade level in reading or math. Middle schools began offering after-school math and reading programs for students who have fallen behind. The district also fine-tuned curriculum so it better matches state standards and made efforts to involve parents in their children’s education.
FMS East missed making AYP by just one index point, an amount assistant superintendent Christine Weymouth said translates to as little as one point on one test.
“It’s unfortunate because the students and staff at Middle school East have been executing a strong improvement plan and I think we’re seeing very good results,” Weymouth said.
Math scores among seventh graders at FMS East improved by nearly 11 percent over last year and reading scores improved by 13 and 15 percent in sixth and seventh grades, respectively.
Farmington schools are hardly alone on the list of schools failing to make adequate progress. In the nearby Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District, 17 schools, including all middle- and high schools, were identified as underperforming. Statewide, the number of middle schools that failed to make adequate progress (164) was more than twice the number that did (71). The number was closer among high schools, but the schools that did not meet state standards still outnumbered those that did (230 to 211).
That gap is likely to increase in the next six years as standards get stricter. National No Child Left Behind legislation calls for all students groups to meet state standards by 2014.
Weymouth sees some positives in the AYP results.
“Having two schools — nearly three — come off the AYP list in a year when state benchmarks were raised significantly is a major achievement for Farmington schools, and something we’ll continue to build on,” she said. “The district and individual schools will continue to use these data ... to guide our decisions as we improve instruction and student achievement in Farmington schools.”