by Mike Knaak
Kennedy Community School students performed better than the overall St. Cloud school district scores but below the statewide average in the latest statewide test scores released on Aug. 28 by the Minnesota Department of Education.
The state performance scores are based on five indicators – achievement and progress on state reading and math tests over time, progress toward English language proficiency, graduation rates and consistent attendance.
The results recognize top performers as well as highlight areas that need improvement and attention.
For example, Kennedy students recorded the second highest score, behind Clearview Elementary School, among the district’s elementary and secondary students for reading achievement. Kennedy’s percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards was 57.9 percent, below the statewide percentage of 58.29 but ahead of the district score of 44.92.
Achievement scores are calculated by the number of students that meet or exceed standards divided by the number of all students tested.
Kennedy students posted the district’s third-highest elementary and middle-school attendance percentage, at 89.83, behind Clearview and Westwood. Average district elementary and middle school attendance was 78.77 and the statewide number was 85.35.
At Kennedy, as well as district-wide, students in subgroups including Hispanic and black students as well as students who are in special-education programs, qualify for free or reduced-price meals or are English Language Learners generally posted lower schools than the overall student population.
Kennedy serves about 740 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
At the district’s two high schools, scores for attendance and graduation rates both dropped from 2018. At Apollo High School, 77.37 percent of students graduated in four years and 74.82 percent of students attended more than 90 percent of the time. At Tech High School, 79.89 percent of students graduated and 85.29 percent of students attended more than 90 percent of the time.
All those results were below the statewide scores.
Students at both high schools outperformed their peers statewide on Advanced Placement tests.
At Tech, 74 percent who took a test scored at least a 3 on one of the exams. At Apollo, 67 percent achieved at least a 3. The statewide percentage is 66. St. Cloud high schools offer 19 different AP courses and 22 different tests, the highest in the region, according to Lori Posch, executive director of Learning and Teaching.
District leaders are taking a number of actions to boost performance.
For example, co-teaching efforts pair a classroom teacher with another teacher who’s trained in special education or English learning. The two teachers plan together to deliver seamless instruction soEnglish-learning students stay in the grade-level classroom instead of being pulled out, Posch said.
The district is rolling out the Building Assets Reducing Risk program, referred to as BARR, to personalize support for students. Teachers work with groups of students to provide academic, social and emotional support.
Consistent attendance directly affects classroom performance and the district monitors and responds quickly to correct attendance issues, said Marsha Baisch, assistant superintendent of Elementary Education.
The plan for improvement also includes professional development for teachers such as a mentoring program for new teachers.
While school leaders look for areas of improvement, they also celebrate successes with teachers and students.
“We want all students to grow and we honor work that went into that growth,” said Laurie Putnam, assistant superintendent for Secondary Education.
“Our work is never done,” Posch said. “We always want to raise the bar. Every year we look at it and have areas of celebration and always identify areas we can continue to focus on.”
To see detailed results from every school and school district, go to the Minnesota Department of Education’s website at http://rc.education.state.mn.us/