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Test scores improve for DC

July 14, 2008

In both reading and math, scores are well above the state average

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Dassel-Cokato students can be proud of themselves for making the grade once again and surpassing the state average on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA-II) test scores.

The MCA-II is given in the areas of math and reading for grades three through eight, reading among tenth graders, and math in grade 11 DC saw most of the improvements in math.

Preliminary results for proficiency in math across the DC School District for 2008 is 71.11 percent.

This is 13.12 percent above last year’s result of 57.99, which was also 2.63 percent below the state average.

This year, math scores are 9.08 percent above the state average of 62 percent.

“We had a very good year with these tests,” said Dassel-Cokato Superintendent Jeff Powers.

Reading proficiency across the district also showed improvement over last year’s scores, at 79.08 percent.

This is up 6.67 percent from last year (72.14), and 8.38 percent above this year’s state average.

Though math showed the largest gain, Powers explained it was because there was “more room for improvement,” having been below the state average last year.

The overall increase in test scores can also be attributed to these factors – increased remediation and staff development – district-wide, according to Powers.

“I’m very happy with the results and we will celebrate them and work hard to do even better next year,” Powers said.

Though the district “gained a lot of ground,” it needs to look at the long-term trends and not put too much emphasis on one year’s results.

DC Middle School Principal Gary Johnson can also be proud in that the school met the annual yearly progress (AYP) for the special education sub group.

Last year, the DC Middle School’s MCA-II in that area was below par and missed the AYP target.

Therefore, Johnson worked out a corrective action plan consisting of targeted remediation for struggling special education students as well as more staff development focusing on the Minnesota standards and MCA-II test content.

“Both the students and their teachers (in the special education sub group) did very well to meet the targets set for AYP,” Johnson said.

However, the middle school is not in the clear yet. Due to the federal mandate, school districts need to have two consecutive years of meeting the AYP targets in order to change the status, according to Johnson.

The overall MCA-II scores were pleasing to Johnson. He gives credit to three different groups of people.

First, Johnson gives credit to the students, who did a nice job and took the challenge.

“They understood the importance of testing and worked really hard to develop their math and reading skills,” Johnson said.

The second group are the students’ parents, who provided math and reading support at home.

“It also helped a lot that the parents motivated their children to do well on testing days,” Johnson said.

The third group Johnson attributes to the district’s successes, are its teachers.

“They made a real determined effort to improve math and reading skills,” he said.

Johnson emphasized teachers in all areas helped out, not only the math and reading instructors.

“I’m really proud of our students and teachers and what they did this year,” Johnson said.

For next year, Johnson plans to continue many of the same efforts for improvement as this year, only more of them, he said.

Johnson also plans to look for additional ways to improve math and reading skills.

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