Five in Dist. 11 named Reward, Celebration schools

Franklin and Hoover elementary schools have been named Celebration schools by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).

Eisenhower students eagerly respond to a CLIMB Theatre presentation performed at the school last October. File photo by Sue Austreng
Eisenhower students eagerly respond to a CLIMB Theatre presentation performed at the school last October. File photo by Sue Austreng

The designation comes as part of the state’s new accountability system, the Multiple Measures Rating (MMR), and reflects Franklin and Hoover’s efforts to improve outcomes for students.

Hoover Principal Gwen Dillenburg expressed her delight at the recognition.

“It is quite the accomplishment and we are so excited,” Dillenburg said.

The teaching staff at Hoover has been working as a collaborative group utilizing the mantra, “share the work, share the student,” she said.

“We’ve seen huge gains,” Dillenburg said. “And the students are very comfortable, they are very excited working in small groups. It gives them one-on-one attention and we’ve seen huge gains with that.”

As for Franklin’s designation as a Celebration school, Principal Vickie Spindler sees it as validation of the success of strategies they’ve implemented to meet the needs of students.

“We implemented lots of things we knew would support kids,” Spindler said.

Franklin is a school with “lots of students of color and many high-mobility students, more than any other,” she said.

To meet those students’ needs, the staff at Franklin practiced teacher-student mentorship and “got to know the kids immediately, got to know what their needs are and how to meet those needs,” Spindler said.

Ellen Perrault, communication specialist for Anoka-Hennepin School District, described the avenue by which schools received the MDE designations.

The MMR was rolled out in May 2012 for school receiving Title I funding from the federal government. Title I provides additional help in reading and math for students attending schools with large numbers of students in poverty.

Schools were designated as Reward, Priority or Focus schools.

Schools were also identified as “Celebration eligible” and invited to apply for Celebration school status.

Six Anoka-Hennepin schools were invited to apply; Franklin and Hoover received the designation.

Reward schools are recognized for being in the top 15 percent of all Title I schools; Celebration eligible schools are the next 10 percent of high achieving Title I schools.

District 11’s Reward schools, named last summer, included Eisenhower, Madison and Monroe.

Dorothy Olsen, principal at Madison, appreciates the designation and said being a Reward school really demonstrates that “we have a real commitment to our students here.”

That commitment is activated with intervention for students who need intermedial work.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Olsen said. “The students at Madison know we care and have high expectations – both emotional and academic. Madison families have entrusted their children to us. This helps them know their children are in good hands.”

Eisenhower Principal Kari Rock attributes her school’s Reward status to many things.

“The success of our school cannot be contributed to one factor, but rather it is the combination of many different pieces that has led to our success,” she said, citing the use of collaborative teaching practices, professional learning communities and targeted services programming before and after school as key contributors.

“Our staff believes that it is important to develop a strong relationship with individual students. The teachers and para educators strive to make sure that our students believe in themselves, work hard and know what goals they are working towards,” Rock said. “The staff at Eisenhower do a great job clearly stating for the students what the objective is of each lesson.”

Dr. Mary Wolverton, associate superintendent for elementary schools, expressed her pride in District 11 schools’ MDE designations.

“As a district, we are incredibly proud of the designation these schools have received from the Minnesota Department of Education,” she said. “The positive impact on student achievement at these schools is testimony to the dedication of our staff at each building respectfully.”

MMR accountability defined

The MMR (Multiple Measures Rating) is based on four measures:

• Proficiency on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)

• Growth of individual students on MCA from one year to the next

• Reduction of the achievement gap between lower-performing subgroups and higher-performing subgroups

• Graduation rate of high schools

According to Anoka-Hennepin School District Communication Specialist Ellen Perrault, an advantage of the new system is that all Title I funds are available for use by schools in providing staff and programming for students.

Under the previous system, Perrault said, the district had to set aside 20 percent of its Title I funding to offer school choice or free tutoring to qualifying students in schools that had failed to make adequate yearly progress for two or more years. This frees up more than $1 million that can be spent on programming for students who need additional help in reading and math.

Sue Austreng is at [email protected]