Herald and Journal, Aug. 6, 2001

Local schools happy with MCA test scores

By Lynda Jensen

Both the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and the Lester Prairie school districts made healthy gains in recent statewide testing of third and fifth graders.

The testing affected three different subjects for third and fifth graders, math, reading, and writing.

Holy Trinity School in Winsted did not take part in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment, representative Ann Brown said. Holy Trinity uses a test from the California Testing Bureau which affects additional grades and is not comparable, she said.

HLWW improves

"I was really impressed with the results," commented Dean Wessman, HLWW curriculum director.

Fifth graders at HLWW shot forward 124 points in writing, 100 points in reading, and 96 points in math when compared to last year's results, Wessman said.

"Last year, we were below the state average in four-out-of-five categories," Wessman said. "This year, we are above the state in four-out-of five categories."

This is a marked increase considering the state average also went up, Wessman said.

"Even though we increased our averages, so did the state," he added. "It's good for us, good for the state."

HLWW fifth graders registered below the state average in writing, Wessman said. This is the only area of testing below the state.

For third graders, HLWW students earned results in all three subjects above the state average, Wessman said.

Test marks for reading went up 61 points, and 63 points for math, which are healthy increases, Wessman said.

"We are trying to improve our curriculum," he said.

LP gains in math

Lester Prairie school district also earned higher marks in its MCA testing, compared with its last year results, High School Principal Richard Hartshorn said.

"We blew them away in third grade math," Hartshorn said, pointing to results that placed Lester Prairie students well ahead of the state average in that area. "That was our biggest gain."

Most of the other scores were close to the state average, but are huge increases compared to results from last year, Hartshorn said.

"We did so well in all areas," Hartshorn said. He noted that one student in Lester Prairie represented three percent of the results, which could dramatically impact the test.

Third grade reading results registered exactly the same as the state, Hartshorn noted, although he pointed out that the state average went up from last year.

"This is a huge improvement from last year," he said.

Math for fifth graders did not quite reach the state average, but improved by 20 percent compared to last year's results, he said.

"This is a huge increase over last year," he said.

Writing also improved by 10 percent over last year's test results, although it did fall short of the state average, Hartshorn said.

All of this is the result of curriculum changes, Hartshorn said.

"We are not satisfied with it, but we are quite pleased," Hartshorn said.

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