By Paul Downer
By Paul Downer
Recently released scores from the Minnesota Department of Education contained some good news for Cologne Academy, but relatively small sample sizes also mean that the data needs to be assessed with some discretion.
Cologne Academy earned a score of 54.87 percent in the new Multiple Measure Rating (MMR) system, which equally weighs proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates for high schools.
The good news is that the Academy scored high marks in proficiency, as students performed in the 99th percentile rank compared to other Minnesota schools in both 2010 and 2011 – the years from which the data was taken for this initial MMR survey.
However, the school experienced considerable variation in the growth and achievement gap reduction categories, due in part to small sample sizes. In 2010, for example, Cologne Academy was in the eighth percentile in the growth category, but that number shot up to the 67th percentile in 2011.
In the same way, the school was in just the third percentile for achievement gap reduction in 2010, but climbed to the 57th percentile in 2011.
"A first-time glance at the overall score may send some, who don’t understand this measure, to question the results," wrote Cologne Academy’s Executive Director Lynn Gluck Peterson in a school newsletter. "A one size fits all is a must to track overall tendencies statewide, but doesn’t always show statistical disadvantages many schools experiences locally. Overall, the state has chosen a fair and constant measure and the state also acknowledges disadvantages to the system."
As Gluck Peterson explained, scoring in the 99th percentile for proficiency doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for growth, and low minority numbers lead to skewed achievement gap numbers that reduce the school’s overall performance in the MMR.
Still, the MMR system has replaced the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) system for at least a two-year waiver period in Minnesota, and Gluck Peterson views that change positively.
"While having goals of 100 percent proficiency has proven difficult at best at a national level, it has proven unattainable at the local level, too," she wrote. "This is why the NCLB waiver was filed. What the state has gleaned from this and what is behind the intentional educational plans for all students at Cologne Academy, is that students can learn and measuring this data in multiple ways is the best way to hold schools accountable."