St. Michael-Albertville Schools Remain Ahead of State Curve on Tests
Grading out the MCA reading and math exams, District 885 continues to perform well despite a slip in math scores.
With the bulk of statewide assessment scores released at the beginning of this month, St. Michael-Albertville students continue to post scores ahead of the curve.
In both reading and math, students scored higher than the state average, according to information released by the school district and confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Education.
STMA averaged 9.1 percentage points higher than the state average of proficient students and 2 percentage points higher on math. Local students recorded 85.1 percent of students proficient in reading compared to the state average of 76 percent. The percentage of district students proficient in math was 67.4 percent compared to 65.4 percent for the state.
STMA’s reading scores showed an increase in the percentage of proficient students in reading for the sixth year in a row, according to District Superintendent James Behele.
"Another first is that every grade recorded more than 80 percent of its students proficient ranging from 81.6 percent in seventh grade to 89.1 percent in tenth grade," Behle reported.
State averages ranged from 71.4 percent in seventh grade to 80.4 percent in third and 10th grades.
High school math GRAD results showed significant improvement. Administered at 11th grade, the percent of students passing increased from 69 percent to 76 percent compared to a decrease in the state average of 57.7 percent. Scores have increased for the third year in row. High school writing scores increased for the third year in a row as well with 97.4 percent of STMA ninth grade students passing the GRAD writing test.
While STMA math scores outperformed their Minnesota counterparts, scores showed a slight overall decrease of 2.0 percentage points in proficient students.
Behle said that the reason for the slight decline is that the new state math assessment reflects more rigorous math standards including testing algebra concepts at earlier grades.
“The district’s math curriculum is up for review and evaluation this year and we will analyze the results more in depth and determine if changes need to be made in the curriculum and teaching strategies,” Behle said.
Changes in the state math assessment program have limited districts’ ability to analyze results, Behle added.
Last year, the district significantly outperformed that state average by 12.4 percent.
Not only has the test changed but how schools administer it changed as well. Schools were permitted this last year to administer the tests up to three times and permitted to use the highest scores for final results. STMA elected to not change its practice of a single administration, which suppressed results when compared to the state averages, and made comparisons less valid.
The state will change this practice to standardize procedures among all state schools. Next year students may take up to two practice tests in math before the final test in the spring.
The strong performance of STMA students is a reflection of a challenging curriculum, high expectations of parents and teachers, and the talents and commitments of the teachers and administrators each and every day said Behle.
“We have in place a system where teachers can closely monitor individual student achievement and design instruction and interventions that meet the needs of each student,” he added.
These results are the first glimpse of how STMA students are doing. Districts will receive Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) results as in the past and the results of the new Minnesota accountability system at the end of August.
Editor's Note: The bulk of data for this report was supplied by the STMA School District. Scores and facts were checked with the Minnesota Department of Education's report on MCA testing.