District 518 passes 87 percent on test
WORTHINGTON -- Seven area schools passed 100 percent of students who participated in the 2006 Minnesota 10th grade writing test, according to results released today by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Adrian, Fulda, Ellsworth, Southwest Star Concept, Round Lake, Murray County Central and Red Rock Central schools achieved full proficiency for their 10th-graders. Worthington District 518 met state requirements for 87 percent of students, with 54.29 percent of Hispanic students passing.
Statewide, a record 92.7 percent of 10th graders met state requirements -- up from 91.2 percent last year.
"The trends on the writing test are all headed in the right direction," Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said. "Average scores for nearly all subgroups increased along with the overall average. Minnesota continues to make progress in closing the achievement gap in writing."
Broken down into groups statewide, white students improved from 95 to 96 percent on the test from 2005 to 2006. Indian Americans improved from 83 to 87 percent, Hispanics from 73 to 77 percent and African Americans from 70 to 73 percent.
District 518 Director of Special Programs Betty McAllister said Worthington is making progress, but added more is needed.
"Our average score was about the same as the state average score," she said. "I think the results overall looked pretty good. Obviously, we had students who didn't pass. So we're not satisfied."
In Worthington, 113 of 116 white students met state requirements compared to 19 of 35 Hispanic students. Seventy-three of 86 males passed (84.9 percent) and 81 of 91 females (89 percent).
Reaching Worthington's sizable Hispanic population continues to be a challenge, McAllister noted.
"It's a huge language issue. It would be interesting to see how many of those students who didn't pass -- how long some of those students have been in the country," she said, indicating that it typically takes five years, if not longer, to get non-English language students to test adequately.
"We're working on it just about as hard as we possibly can," she stated.
McAllister maintained that state testing puts pressure on Minnesota school districts to improve programs for all students, adding that a positive element is its forces schools to constantly re-examine curriculums.
Worthington High School Principal Bruce Blatti agreed.
"We're constantly working to improve students' skills," he said, pointing out that District 518's TPRS program (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) is regularly monitored. "We're using it in all of our language classes, and we're using it in a good number of our English language learner classes. It tells us what we need to be working on, and it gives us direction and focus."
Students who do not meet state requirements on the 10th grade writing test can take the tests again during scheduled re-test opportunities. Complete 2006 results are available on the Minnesota Department of Education Web site at www.education.state.mn.us.