Dist. 518, Minn. differ in statsWORTHINGTON — District 518 differs from the state on several indicators of child well-being, according to a report released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — District 518 differs from the state on several indicators of child well-being, according to a report released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
“There is some difference, and that’s the uniqueness of our district compared to a lot of other districts,” said John Landgaard, District 518 superintendent.
The foundation’s 2009 Kids Count Data Report uses 10 statistics in health, economics, juvenile justice and education to show how children are faring in the United States.
Minnesota is ranked second only to New Hampshire in overall child well-being, and Iowa is sixth.
In 2008, minorities composed 23 percent of all children in Minnesota, and 44 percent of all children in the United States. In District 518, 50 percent of students are minorities.
In fact, the district’s 2008 profile shows a higher population of students in special education programs — 15 percent compared with the state’s 13 percent; and students with limited English proficiency — 11 percent compared with the state’s 8 percent.
“It could be viewed as a negative, but on the positive side it gives students in our district a global perspective that many students are never exposed to,” Landgaard said.
He added the district’s demographics have continued to change, but are expected to stabilize during the next few years.
“We have a higher free and reduced population than two years ago and a higher minority population than we had two years ago,” he said.
Statewide, students in fourth and eight grade had higher proficiency levels in both reading and math than students nationwide. Fifty-one percent of Minnesota fourth-graders and 43 percent of eighth-graders were considered proficient in math in 2007, compared with 39 percent of fourth-graders and 31 percent of eighth-graders nationwide. In reading, 37 percent of Minnesota fourth- and eighth-graders were proficient, compared with 32 percent of the nation’s fourth-graders and 29 percent of eighth-graders.
Though more students in the district come from low-income families — 53 percent receive free or reduced price lunch, compared with 33 percent at the state level — Minnesota fares better than the United States as a whole on several economic indicators.
Twelve percent of Minnesota children live in poverty, compared with 18 percent nationwide and 19.5 percent in Nobles County. And the median income for families with children in Minnesota is $69,200, higher than the U.S. median of $56,800.
The report documented improvements since 2000 in the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, high school dropout rate, and teens not in school and not working. Four areas have worsened: low-birthweight babies, children living with jobless or underemployed parents, children in poverty, and children in single-parent families.
The report noted that the teen birth rate — after declining steadily for many years — rose from 2005 to 2006. The data, gathered no later than 2007, did not reflect the impact of the current recession.