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MCA results reflect need to continue changes

Results from the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), taken by students in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 last spring and received on July 26, showed a slight increase in math proficiency and steady proficiency rates in both reading and science.

At most grade levels, District 191 results were below state averages. However, improvement in certain pockets shows support for the changes the district is working to implement through Vision One91 and other initiatives.

“The positive is that we are seeing growth at schools where we’ve already started making the changes we’re planning for the entire district,” said Assistant Superintendent Cindy Amoroso. “As we go forward, we’ll continue to expand that work through all schools and see more and more students achieving at high levels.”  

In particular, Amoroso pointed to Nicollet Junior High (now Nicollet Middle School), Sioux Trail Elementary and Burnsville High School, citing their work to increase rigor, make better use of student data and inclusive teaching methods, and engaging families in their school.

At Nicollet, proficiency rates rose in math and reading among both 7th- and 8th-grade students. Teachers at Nicollet dedicated a large portion of their work this year, especially in math, increasing the rigor of their curriculum in line with state standards, including introducing more algebra in 8th grade.

At Sioux Trail Elementary, scores increased and surpassed state averages in both math and reading at nearly every grade level. Principal Shannon McParland noted that her staff members have increased their use of student data, which helps teachers know what students know and what they need to keep working on. In addition, Sioux Trail has been a pilot school for District 191’s efforts to better engage families and create culturally proficient schools that reflect the strengths and assets of all students.

“Our students show growth in many ways which always makes us excited. Seeing their growth show up in standardized assessment is a true celebration of their success!” McParland said.

At Burnsville High School, more students were proficient on reading, math and science tests compared to last year. In particular, the school’s 10th grade reading scores rose more than 10 points to 64 percent proficiency, higher than the state average of 59 percent. Over the past few years, the school has been deliberately changing teaching methods to move away from primarily lecture-based instruction to including more interactive, collaborative and hands-on learning.  

“The success that we’ve seen at these schools, thanks to the excellent work by teachers and leaders, is exciting and we’re committed to building on it across the district,” Amoroso said.

Some of the specific improvement efforts District 191 has planned for 2016-17 include the adoption of new literacy resources and continued expansion of the “Reading Workshop” instructional model, which supports differentiation. Work to expand the Culturally Proficient Schools model to all schools will continue, helping teachers be more responsive and effective for all students. The district will also expand “wrap-around” services that have been shown effective in supporting student success, including providing in-school mental health counseling through its partnership with Headway Emotional Services.

These changes, which are focused on personalized learning, will be supported by the increase in technology provided through the Vision One91 referendum. Technology tools, including an online learning management system, one-to-one personal learning devices at the high school and adaptive resources, will give students access to the resources that match their needs.

Detailed results are available on the state Department of Education website.

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Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 09:42