Two schools in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 again achieved Reward School status in the state's measurement of school performance called Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR), according to information received from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) this week.
Gideon Pond and Edward Neill Elementary Schools in Burnsville ranked among the top 15 percent of Minnesota schools that qualify for federal Title I funding, which is based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
Reward Schools should serve as models for others in the state, according to MDE. This is the fifth consecutive year that Gideon Pond has been designated as a Reward School — an achievement that few schools have reached. This is the third consecutive year that Edward Neill has earned the honor.
Also, Marion W. Savage Elementary in Savage is eligible to apply for Celebration status for the third year because it is among the top 25 percent of Title I schools in the state.
Also notable is William Byrne Elementary in Burnsville which showed the greatest gains in proficiency, growth and closing the achievement gap. Because the school does not receive Title 1 funding, it is not eligible for a status ranking.
The MMR score is based on students' scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) state tests along with yearly academic growth for students and the reduction in the achievement gap between racial and economic groups of students. Both William Byrne and Marion W. Savage showed progress on closing the achievement gap.
Generally, District 191 schools have ratings similar to the state averages with reading scores tending to be higher than math.
“Overall, MMR results were disappointing and support the need for many of the changes being implemented through Vision One91 and last spring’s voter-approved referendum,” said Cindy Amoroso, assistant superintendent. Changes will include grade realignment, expanded classroom technology, reprogramming and more to meet the needs of learners at all levels.
“We are realizing good results from some schools and hope to expand that success districtwide,” said Amoroso. For example, she noted Gideon Pond, Sioux Trail, William Byrne and Edward Neill elementary schools excel at using individual student data and more targeted instruction practices to get good results. All four schools scored above state averages on most grade-level MCA results and showed improvement in schoolwide reading scores compared to 2014.
"Our goal is proficiency and growth for all students in Burnsville, Eagan and Savage,” said Amoroso who adds that schools work in several ways to boost MMR scores. Most importantly, every school and educational program in District 191 is required to develop a School Improvement Plan (SIP) each year. Created by teams of teachers and school leaders, these plans lay out specific goals for the school and outline the research-based steps the school will take to improve student achievement. Those plans are focusing more specifically on the implementation of research-based strategies to raise achievement for all. Teacher teams are aligning their goals with the goals on the building plans and continuing their focus on high quality instruction.
Some of the other steps District 191 schools have taken to improve student achievement include:
- Strategic use of data so instruction can target individual needs of students, at all levels.
- More consistent math instruction districtwide using the Math in Focus curriculum for kindergarten through 6th grade.
- Expansion of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness program to all secondary schools in the district.
- Use of the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program in all schools to set consistent expectations about behavior and reinforce good choices made by students, creating an improved learning environment.
- Expansion of programming to meet students’ social, emotional, nutritional, behavioral, and language acquisition needs are also being implemented.