Prairie Elementary named ‘focus school’WORTHINGTON — According to the latest school ratings released by the Minnesota Department of Education, Prairie Elementary is among the 85 schools state wide now classified as “focus schools” — the 10 percent of Title 1 schools contributing most to the state achievement gap.
WORTHINGTON — According to the latest school ratings released by the Minnesota Department of Education, Prairie Elementary is among the 85 schools state wide now classified as “focus schools” — the 10 percent of Title 1 schools contributing most to the state achievement gap.
The results are the first portion of Minnesota’s new rating system after being granted the waiver for the No Child Left Behind program in February.
Under the state’s new Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) system, adequate yearly progress for schools will be measured based on proficiency, student growth, progress in closing achievement gaps and graduation rates. In each category, schools are awarded with a maximum of 25 points.
Prior to this year, schools were only evaluated on proficiency under No Child Left Behind.
The MMR approach measures the performance of Title I schools — schools that receive federal funding to provide additional tutoring to lower achieving students.
There were 127 schools named “reward schools.” These schools are the top 15 percent of Title 1 schools in Minnesota. Forty-two consistently underperforming schools were designated as “priority schools.”
Prairie Elementary principal Josh Noble said the MMR results were based on student testing data from 2010 and 2011, instead of current data from this year and 2011.
“We had significant growth in 2011, so mainly the 2010 results brought us down,” he said.
Noble said in 2011, students in the limited English proficiency subgroup and Hispanic subgroup made significant gains, higher than the state average.
“We’re excited to see those things,” he said. “We really need to keep focusing on our special education subgroup, because that was the only group that put us into the focus school category.”
Similar to how schools had to develop plans for not making adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind, focus schools and priority schools will have to develop improvement plans.
Noble said through professional learning communities (PLC) in the school, more common assessments have been conducted to identify students who understand the skills needed to meet the benchmark and those who do not.
“We work on trying to regroup kids rather than continue to move with the curriculum,” he said. “Our after-school and summer programs have gotten stronger because of the PLC. We know why students are in the program and what they need to work on.”
He stressed the importance of providing equal attention to lower-achieving students as well as students who are meeting or exceeding standards.
“We have to make sure that all students have the opportunity to grow from where they are,” Noble said.
He said next year all teachers will be trained for SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol). Through SIOP — research-based model — teachers design their lesson plans to effectively convey teaching material while promoting language development.
“We need to make sure we’re teaching them the background knowledge to help them connect to the content,” Noble said.
Fourth-grade teachers at Prairie began using the SIOP model last year.
While the current practices will be included in the improvement plan, Noble said an additional measure will be to focus on school readiness — to ensure pre-school aged children are ready for kindergarten.
“It can’t just be the school’s mission — it’ll involve a lot of players in terms of maybe Even Start and major employers,” he said, adding he has received a call from a local employer expressing interest in helping with school readiness.
“Focus schools” will be identified every three years.
Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony may be reached at 376-7321.