Positive signs for Central Schools in MMR results

By Paul Downer
Community Editor

By Paul Downer

Community Editor

A new testing system for Minnesota students has given encouraging results for Central Schools.

The Minnesota Department of Education released results of its new Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) accountability tests last month, and local students, particularly at the high school level, performed well.

Minnesota schools have been granted a two-year waiver to replace the No Child Left Behind system with the MMR, a system that the state department of education said is a better, fairer way to measure school performance. The MMR measures four main areas equally and takes those results into account for its overall score: proficiency, student growth, achievement gap closure and high school graduation rate.

When those categories were added together, Central High School posted an eye-popping 97.12 percent overall score.

"We are extremely pleased with our high school results," said District 108 superintendent Brian Corlett. "I’m certain that was one of the top MMR scores for high schools in the state. I don’t know exactly where it ranked, but it has to be near the top."

Corlett said that District 108 also scored near the top of the schools making up the Minnesota River Conference.

The results were formulated by taking math and reading scores from 2010 and 2011 in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). Additional results from testing in 2012 will be released later this year.

"Overall we’re very pleased. Our kids are growing. Our scores continue to improve. We think our scores from this spring will be even better," said Corlett.

As for student growth at the high school, 81.1 percent of Central students demonstrated medium or high growth in reading, and 92.4 percent showed medium to high growth in math. Those numbers were both above the state average of 77.3 percent in reading and 74.1 percent in math.

At the middle school, Central students had an overall MMR of 61.83 percent, which Corlett said was also one of the better ranks in the area and "very good" overall.

Growth numbers for the middle school were also positive, with 76.8 percent of students demonstrating medium to high growth in reading (statewide medium/high growth was 77.3 percent) and 71.4 percent showing medium/high growth in math (statewide math growth was 74.1 percent).

Central Elementary School had the lowest MMR rating at Central Schools at 53.96 percent, but Corlett said that part of the reason for that was different judging measures for various subgroups in 2010 and 2011. On the bright side, Corlett said that all of those subgroups met their proficiency mark in 2011, an achievement Corlett said was "outstanding."

Growth was strong at Central Elementary, where 80.8 percent showed medium/high growth in reading (compared to a state average of 77.3 percent) and 82.2 percent showed medium/high growth in math (compared to a state average of 74.1 percent).

Asked whether he thought the MMR system was superior to No Child Left Behind, which simply designated schools as "failing" or "not failing" – thus categorizing many high-performing schools as failures – Corlett said he was cautiously optimistic, but added that there could still be changes ahead.

"It might be something that as they go in to reauthorize [the MMR], the whole thing may get thrown out again. Right now this is what it is, and we’re dealing with it," he said. "I’m very proud of our staff and students for the work that they continue to do."