State school ratings releasedEsko comes out at top of Carlton County schools again
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
New figures and ratings on school proficiency have been released by the Minnesota Department of Education, and for the third year in a row, an Esko school has received a special designation.
Winterquist Elementary was named a “Reward School” by the Department for the third consecutive year in the Department’s Multiple Measures Ratings (MMR) system, which grades each public school in the state in several defined areas.
Elementary and middle schools are graded for proficiency in MCA testing of various age groups. Each year, students in grades 3-8 are tested in reading and math. High school sophomores take reading tests and juniors are tested in math.
Schools are also graded in average growth in scores for students. They are also graded in how well they handle “gap reduction” in achievement between students in special education, those who qualify for free and reduced lunch, and groups who score below other students.
High schools are also scored on their graduation rates. The results are then tallied and placed on a curve, with the top 15 percent of schools in the state receiving “Reward” status and the top 40 percent receiving “Celebration” status.
Both Cloquet grade schools — Churchill and Washington — earned Celebration status for scoring in the 69th and 76th percentile statewide. Winterquist scored in the 93rd percentile to earn Reward status once again as the top-rated school in Carlton County.
Moose Lake Elementary (78th percentile) and Carlton’s South Terrace Elementary (72nd percentile) also are eligible for Celebration designation.
However, Celebration and Reward status also depend on whether or not the schools receive Federal Title I dollars. So it is that Cloquet Middle School, which scored in the 61st percentile, and Cloquet High School, which scored in the 90th percentile, would not receive recognition because neither school receives Federal Title I dollars.
It’s a confusing process, but one which bears fruit for educators.
“I think the results are very good and very positive,” said Cloquet Middle School Principal Tom Brenner, the Cloquet School District’s testing coordinator. “It’s indicative of the hard work of the students, families and the staff.”
The Cloquet district in particular has issues with achievement gap reduction according to Brenner, but meets the challenges head-on.
“We have some challenges as a district with different numbers and higher counts in our free and reduced lunch programs, but we have never accepted those as reasons why kids can’t learn as a district,” he said. “That shows in our scores.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the bottom 5 percent of schools at each level are designated as “Priority Schools,” while the next 10 percent are considered “Focus Schools.” The bottom quartile in each category are considered “Continuous Improvement” schools and all are eligible to receive special state support.
Barnum Elementary was the only school in Carlton County to fall into any of those categories, with a “Continuous Improvement” designation.
Private schools are not required to either give their students the MCA exams or submit any scores to the State of Minnesota for MMR classification.
Carlton County MMR school scores and rankings
School Type District School Title I MMR % Designation
E Esko Winterquist Elementary Y 93.32 Reward
H Cloquet Cloquet Senior High N 89.59
H Moose Lake Moose Lake Secondary N 79.60
E Moose Lake Moose Lake Elementary Y 77.75 Celebration
E Cloquet Washington Elementary Y 76.89 Celebration
H Esko Lincoln Secondary N 73.66
E Carlton South Terrace Elementary Y 71.44 Celebration
E Cloquet Churchill Elementary Y 69.04 Celebration
M Cloquet Cloquet Middle N 60.52
H Barnum Barnum Secondary N 59.15
E Wrenshall Wrenshall Elementary Y 46.74
E Cromwell-Wright Cromwell-Wright Elementary Y 40.86
H Cromwell-Wright Cromwell-Wright Secondary N 37.51
H Carlton Carlton Secondary N 27.42
H Wrenshall Wrenshall Secondary N 22.19
E Barnum Barnum Elementary Y 19.51 Cont. Improvement