Archived Story

A.L. elementary scores reveal gap

Published 9:41am Friday, August 31, 2012

Scores from 2011-12 show a disparity between student academic growth in Albert Lea elementary schools.

Lakeview Elementary is on one end of the spectrum and in the top 10 percent of schools in the state, Sibley Elementary falls in the middle-lower end of the spectrum and then Halverson and Hawthorne elementaries fall in the bottom 25 percent in the state and must take corrective action.

Mike Funk

Halverson and Hawthorne are classified as continuous improvement schools under the Minnesota Department of Education’s Multiple Measurement Ratings, or MMR. The scores were released Thursday. Mary Williams, the district’s director of teaching and learning, said she’s concerned about the disparity. Halverson and Hawthorne will have to take steps because of their classification that shows the students didn’t grow as learners as much as they should.

“They will write a school improvement plan to be submitted to the district,” Williams said. “They must also notify parents of their status.”

Williams said that the district was going through a lot of change during the 2011-12 school year, including transferring many teachers to other schools.

“It was definitely a year of change in lots of areas,” Williams said.

Superintendent Mike Funk said that the scores show many things. While many students were proficient, the low scores come as a result of not enough academic growth, Funk said.

Funk said that while he is concerned about all the scores the district received he is also concerned about the inconsistency of scores from year to year. He presented to the school board earlier this summer that the district’s scores often go up and down without consistency.

“Until the district gets consistent scores, that’s how we’ll know we’re on the right track,” Funk said.

Funk said with the district realignment and changes to curriculum that he expects to see scores start to be more consistent, and hopefully rise as well.

Minnesota developed the Multiple Measurement Ratings system after it received a waiver from some of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.


Focus rating

Minnesota has a new measurement for schools called the Focus Rating. It analyzes proficiency and growth for seven subgroups: black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, free-and-reduced-price lunch, special education and English language learners. Williams said the district saw an improvement in scores for the district’s subgroups.

“That tells us we’re meeting those subgroups’ needs as far as proficiency,” Williams said.


ACT scores

Students at Albert Lea High School recently scored well on the common college aptitude test. The district had an average ACT score of 22.6, which is just below the state average of 22.8, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. The average score for Midwest students hovers around the 22 mark.

“We’d like to be at or above the state average for the ACT, so that’s a success,” Williams said.

The average of 22.6 is the highest composite score the district has seen in five years and a full point higher than last year’s composite score.