A week before new classes began this fall in St. Francis School District 15, the Minnesota Department of Education released data on how students performed in tests of math, science and reading taken last spring to measure against established state standards.
Although there is room for improvement locally and in every district, the MDE data showed students in District 15 are scoring above state averages in each subject at all levels.
Students in third- through eighth-grades are evaluated in both math and reading through these tests, the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. Those who are preparing to leave fifth grade for sixth grade (or moving from grade school to middle school in most districts) are tested in science, as are the students about to exit eighth grade or generally enter high school.
The high school sophomores are tested in reading, while juniors are assessed in math and science.
MDE officials share percentages statewide for students who meet the standards in different subjects, along with partially meeting or exceeding those marks.
Among third-grade students at St. Francis Elementary School and Cedar Creek and East Bethel community schools, 91.9 percent of them met, partially met or exceeded standards in math (86.9 percent statewide), while 79.4 percent of District 15 third-graders were meeting some or all goals in reading, compared with 74.4 percent in the state.
For the older students in the district’s grade schools, 90.4 percent of fourth-graders were meeting some or all goals in math (85.6 percent statewide) and 78.8 percent cleared those levels in reading (77.4 percent). The scores improved for St. Francis fifth-grade students, as 94.6 percent of them met some or all goals in math (83.8 percent statewide) and 93.2 percent were there in reading (84.6 percent).
Nearly 90 percent of the district’s fifth-graders met some or all goals to be assessed in the science MCAs, compared with 79.7 percent statewide.
At St. Francis Middle School, 91.3 percent of sixth-grade students met some or all standards in math (81.2 percent statewide), while 84.3 percent were there in reading (79.2 percent).
Among seventh-grade students, 85.7 percent met some or all goals in math (84.0 percent in the state) and 77.3 percent met or passed them in reading (74.9 percent).
More eighth-grade students left middle school with higher scores, as 88.2 percent met some or all standards in math (82.6 percent statewide) and 83.0 percent in reading (74.7 percent). Nearly 80 percent of the eighth-grade students at SFMS met some or all goals in science (73.7 percent statewide).
For the select tests at St. Francis High School, 84.7 percent of 10th-graders met some or all of the standards in reading (83.8 percent statewide), while 85.3 percent of 11th-graders met some or all goals in science (78.7 percent in the state) and 75.7 percent of last year’s juniors at SFHS were there in math (73.0 percent statewide).
Paul Neubauer was principal at SFHS for the past 10 years and transitioned to an interim role as the district’s director of curriculum and development late this summer. Neubauer’s arrival in his new position coincided with the state’s delivery of the MCA data from last spring.
He told the Anoka County Union this week that scores were up throughout the district for math and science along with ninth-grade writing results which were announced separately. “From a global perspective, I think the district is happy with the results and encouraged by these results,” Neubauer said.
The MCA reading percentages “dipped pretty significantly” for District 15 from last year, but that was the case throughout the state, Neubauer said. “It’s due to increased rigor in the test,” he said.
Teachers will be tasked with working harder with their classes to improve the students’ skills and performance, but Neubauer said he is confident the St. Francis teachers are up to that challenge. “I anticipate these (reading) scores will rise over the next year or two,” he said.