Cloquet schools work hard to improve test scoresCloquet students have been far outscoring the Minnesota state average on standardized testing, and their high achievement on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests was the main point of discussion at Monday night’s regular Cloquet School Board meeting.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Cloquet students have been far outscoring the Minnesota state average on standardized testing, and their high achievement on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests was the main point of discussion at Monday night’s regular Cloquet School Board meeting.
Minnesota ranks among the top academic states in the nation. According to the 2010 ACT scores, Minnesota students’ average score ranked above the national average and about 70 percent of Minnesota’s graduating seniors took the ACT last year.
Districtwide, Cloquet schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this year, as defined by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act. According to the MCAs, Cloquet students scored above the state average proficiency in areas such as reading, math and science. Cloquet schools scored more than 5 percent higher than the state average in the area of reading, and ranked third in the area behind Esko and Carlton. In math, Cloquet scored 8 percent higher than the state average and second in the area behind Esko.
Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said he attributes these high scores to a concentrated effort on the part of the staff to write and teach good curriculum; hard work by all staff to meet the physical, emotional and academic needs of the students; families who take their learning and testing seriously and a community and school board who support student learning in as many ways as they can.
Churchill Elementary School students did remarkably well, with third- through fifth-graders scoring well above the 68 percent and 80 percent benchmarks in math and reading. This means that these students are testing above the proficient standard as determined by the state of Minnesota.
The highest level of proficiency in math came from Churchill’s third-grade students with 90.1 percent scoring at or above proficiency, and almost 20 percent above the state average. Again for reading, Churchill’s third-grade students had the highest score of 96.3 percent, 18 percent above the state average.
The Cloquet Middle School, however, did not make AYP in the Special Education math and reading and Native American reading subgroups. The staff has been working hard to address this and has already seen improvement, according to Cloquet Middle School Principal Tom Brenner.
Brenner said that classes have been added to the Special Education curriculum that allow students with special needs access to general education while still receiving specialized instruction. Also, a new “Ramp-Up” curriculum in math and English is designed for students with and without disabilities who are performing two grade levels below state expectations. It accelerates students’ learning to lessen the skill gap between them and their peers. They have also been pulling students from study halls, homeroom and activity periods to provide them with additional instruction in reading and math skills, Brenner said.
“So, while we are dissatisfied with our MCA scores, we know that we have put the necessary services and supports in place to address our students’ weaknesses,” Brenner said. “We are thrilled with the growth that we have already seen in many of our students, and we are quite confident this growth will continue.”
Overall, the scores are encouraging.
“The high scores mean that our school district and students are doing great at teaching and learning,” Scarbrough said. “We want to continue to support programs and class sizes that will continue this success.”
According to Scarbrough, the district’s referendum relates to these high test scores because the money it generates helps support low class sizes, better curriculum and additional help for students who are struggling.
“With a history of no growth in funding for students and the state delaying 40 percent of our funding for schools, continued success will be much easier and more inclusive of all students if we receive additional financial support through increased referendum authority,” Scarbrough said.
The referendum vote is coming up Nov. 8, and the district continues to make information available to raise public awareness. Information regarding the referendum from fast facts to FAQs has been added to the Cloquet School District website homepage. Community meetings continue to take place, with a public meeting following the next board meeting Oct. 24 at Garfield School, and another at Cloquet City Hall from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. Scarbrough has been working with CAT 7 to air public meetings and has also been a guest on their show “Harry’s Gang.” According to Scarbrough, these programs will continue to air on CAT 7 and will be included on their schedule.
The board will be asking for a renewal and increase of their operating referendum with a two-question ballot. The current referendum is $97.61 per student, and Question 1 will ask simply for a renewal of this amount. In Question 2, the board is asking for an increase of $275 per student, bringing the total referendum amount to $372.61 per student per year.
The referendum vote is scheduled to take place Nov. 8 at the Cloquet Armory from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information regarding the referendum, visit the district’s website www.cloquet.k12.mn.us, attend a public meeting or call Ken Scarbrough or Bonnie Monfeldt at the Central Administration Office.
The next board meeting will take place Oct. 24 at Garfield school and a public referendum meeting is scheduled directly following from 7:30-8:30 p.m.