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Blue Earth Area makes the grade

July 13, 2010
Sarah Day — Staff Writer

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area Schools is no longer on the state's naughty list for not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.

Elementary Principal Kevin Grant went over the results of the MCA II tests for the school board on Monday.

"For the last two years, the district was in 'school needs improvement' because the school did not make progress in one cell area," he said. "A lot of work has been made to improve that. It's extremely difficult to get out of. You not only have to improve, but also by 4 percent."

Grant presented graphs generated from the state education department Web site. The graphs compared Blue Earth Area with New Ulm, United South Central, Maple River, Martin County West and Fairmont. One graph showed the proficiency of math scores in those districts for all students tested. Almost all rated above the 50th percentile. Only one rated higher than Blue Earth Area - Maple River.

Reading fared similarly for the area, with all districts around the 70th percentile of proficiency, with Maple River again taking the lead into the 80th percentile.

Board member Vicki Hanson was hopeful of Blue Earth Area's future because of Maple River's results.

"They're a year ahead of us on the staff improvement program," she said. "They've made some very nice gains with the same things we're doing."

The data showed individual grade levels and how they fared compared to neighboring districts. Blue Earth Area typically tested on par with or better than most of the schools, with a few grade levels below the area average.

Now the trick is staying off the state's list and continuing to improve by at least 4 percent per year. According to No Child Left Behind, every student must be proficient by 2014.

"I don't believe it's a coincidence we got off (the AYP failure list)," Grant added. "We still have improvements to make, but we're moving in the right direction."

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy applauded teachers for their work in looking at data and taking the initiative to move forward.

"Kids are changing," he noted. "The way they learn is much different."

AYP test results come out in August. At the end of this month, the MCA II results for science will be available.

In other business Monday, the board approved calling a general election for November, in which four seats will be up for grabs. It also approved Aug. 3-17 filing dates.

The board also scheduled a work session for 6 p.m. July 28 in the district conference room.



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