by Dennis Dalman
On the heels of good news about SAT scores, the Sartell-St. Stephen School District now has some more good news of which to be proud.
Sartell students performed far better than the state average – in some cases 25 percent better – on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test. That test, given annually, measures proficiency in the areas of reading, math and science. All students in third through eighth grade, as well as all high-school students, take the reading and math MCA test. The science portion is given to all fifth-graders, all eighth-graders and all high school students.
District-wide, the percentage of Sartell students who met or exceeded the state standards was 68.4 percent in reading compared to 59.1 as the statewide average; 78.34 percent in math compared to 61.4 percent statewide and 70.2 percent in science compared to 53.2 percent statewide.
The students not only outperformed state averages, but they also set an all-time record for highest MCA scores in science, 70.2 percent. The state average for science was also a record high at 53.2 of students scoring proficiency or higher in science.
“Our students continue to perform above state (proficiency percentages) in all categories,” said Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert. “As a district, we will continue to use this data to inform our teaching and learning strategies as we continue to move forward.”
Both Schwiebert and Director of Learning Services Kay Nelson well understand that despite the good news, it is not time to rest on laurels.
“While we recognize our students performed well overall when compared to state averages,” Nelson said, “we also understand there is need for continued improvement. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments are rigorous measures of achievement. We will examine this data at a deeper level to help us understand our areas of strengths and areas for growth. It is our charge to provide instruction that embeds necessary rigor and structure that supports all learners. We strive to design our instruction to prepare our students for success today and into the future.”
The results of the math and reading assessments are used by school districts to determine adequate yearly progress toward state standards, which in turn determine compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.
Schwiebert explained how the assessments are helpful.
“The information we gather from the MCAs, in combination with several other data points and information,” he said, “helps teachers in designing curriculum to target specific skills within reading, math and science to strengthen all learners. This data is always an important component of informing and improving our practice as we prepare students to be career and college-ready.”
The following are the proficiency percentages for each grade, with the first scores being Sartell students’ and the second being the statewide percentages.
Reading Grade 3: 65.1; 58.1; Math Grade 3: 80.5; 71.8; Reading Grade 4: 62.0; 55.0; Math Grade 4: 76.3; 70.3; Reading Grade 5: 76.6; 67.6; Math Grade 5: 80.8; 61.8; Science Grade 5: 74.2; 61.2; Reading Grade 6: 62.3; 61.0; Math Grade 6: 74.6; 57.1; Reading Grade 7: 71.1; 56.0; Math Grade 7: 82.4; 57.1; Reading Grade 8: 62.8; 55.8; Math Grade 8: 84.2; 59.7; and Science Grade 8: 61.7; 44.9.
High School Averages: Reading 80.5; 60.1; Math 68.1; 50.6; and Science 75.7; 53.2.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.