District 518 splits from national trends in educationWORTHINGTON — More non-native English speakers. More children enrolled in preschool programs. Fewer students living in poverty.
WORTHINGTON — More non-native English speakers. More children enrolled in preschool programs. Fewer students living in poverty.
In many ways, the condition of education in Worthington District 518 differs from that of the nation as a whole, and not always for the worse.
The 400-page Condition of Education report, released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Education, analyzes the national, regional and state-by-state status of education. It considers a number of factors: age, race, poverty level and family of students; student performance; and completion rates at elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions.
Here’s a look at how some of the study’s key findings compare to local demographics:
* District 518 fares better than the national demographic when it comes to the percentage of all 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in a preschool program.
Between 1970 and 2008, the enrollment rate for children ages 3–4 increased from 20 to 53 percent, but the number of children enrolled in school has dropped nationally since 2002. In Worthington, 81 percent of this fall’s incoming kindergarten class has had some form of preschool experience.
* In the 2007-2008 academic year, some 61 percent of teachers worked in districts that offered at least one pay incentive for obtaining National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or working in fields with teacher shortages. However, teachers in city schools are more likely to be offered pay incentives than teachers who work in suburban, rural or town school districts like District 518.
“Teachers are offered stipends through district staff development dollars … if they take on a (new teacher) mentoring position or if they are a curriculum chair,” explained Tammy Timko, the district’s director of teaching and learning.
Teachers also receive increased pay for continuing college credits earned.
* Graduation rates in District 518 are close to the most recent state rates of nearly 87 percent in the 2006-2007 school year. Looking at the cohort group that was set to graduate in spring 2009, District 518 has a graduation rate of slightly more than 82 percent. That number drops to 66 percent when addingstudents from the Area Learning Center.
“(The rate) gives a true picture, but not the whole picture,” Timko said.
The district hopes to also start tracking how many students go on to earn post-secondary diplomas or degrees, she added.
Nationally in 2006–07, about three-quarters of the 2003–04 freshman class graduated from high school on time with a regular diploma. Minnesota had the fourth-highest graduation rate in the nation, behind Vermont, Wisconsin and Iowa.
* In 2007–08 17 percent of all public schools in the United States were considered high-poverty schools, meaning 75 percent or more of the student population was eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
As of October 2009, District 518 did not have any schools considered to be high-poverty, but 62 percent of students in the district are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
* While the number of students enrolled in charter schools has more than tripled, and the number of charter schools in the United States has increased from 1,5000 in 1999 to 4,400 in 2008, southwest Minnesota boasts only one charter school: the Worthington Area Language Academy, which closed this year after five years in operation.
* In 2008, some 21 percent of children ages 5–17 spoke a language other than English at home, and 5 percent spoke English with difficulty — 2 to 5 percent in Minnesota.
In Worthington District 518, 47 percent of students speak a language other than English at home. Sixty-three percent of those speak Spanish and 10 percent speak Lao as a home language.