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Lifelong Learning

Moorhead Schools to receive additional support under North Star accountability system

September 4, 2018

Over the next three years, Moorhead Area Public Schools will continue to focus on improving mathematics and reading achievement, graduation rate, and attendance with some added support from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)and the state’s World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) legislation, Minnesota has designed the new North Star accountability system to report data, support school districts’ growth in achievement, and recognize schools for success.

According to Tamara Uselman, assistant superintendent for learning and accountability for Moorhead Area Public Schools, the new system is complex so it will take some time for the district to understand the details.

“We want to dive into this data to use it as we finalize and implement each school’s improvement plan for the year, remembering schools are organic environments. That means data can tell part of the story, but not the full story about a school’s efforts and teachers’ and students’ success,” she said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the North Star system was built with a commitment to equity. All student groups are now being compared to a state standard rather than to each other.

Additionally, MDE is no longer releasing stand-alone Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results because test scores don’t tell a complete story. With assessment results incorporated into the North Star system, they become one of several measures to look at schools.

Five indicators used to identify schools or districts for support include:

● Mathematics and reading proficiency
● Growth toward mathematics and reading proficiency
● Progress for English learners
● Four-year and seven-year graduation rates
● Consistent attendance

Uselman said the district appreciates the reasons Red River Area Learning Center and the two Title I elementary schools were identified for additional supports.

“Red River ALC, which provides alternative pathways for students to earn a diploma, was identified for comprehensive support to help with increasing our students’ graduation rate,” she said. “Ellen Hopkins Elementary and Robert Asp Elementary, which are the district’s Title I elementary schools based on the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, will receive targeted support for mathematics and reading achievement.”

Uselman said the district is committed to continual improvement in attendance, mathematics and reading achievement, and graduation rate for each student.

“Being identified for additional support from the Minnesota Department of Education provides additional experts and professional development to help us with improving achievement for all students,” she said.

The district saw improvement in graduation rates, which were released earlier this year.

“We expected and we saw gains by English learners following additional options for our English learners, including credit-bearing sheltered English courses in the core areas of math, science, social studies and language arts,” Uselman said. “Although we’ve made great strides in graduation, we are hungry to further improve our four- and seven-year graduation rates.”

Uselman advised that district scores regarding language progress for English learners are not accurate because some tests did not get returned within the test-scoring window for this reporting period.

To have consistent attendance students need to be attending more than 90 percent of the days they are enrolled. This indicator uses 2016-17 school year data.

“We want students to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance as important people in the learning community,” Uselman said. “Student attendance is a significant factor in academic achievement. We need to continue to improve attendance at all grades, focusing on making connections, and engaging students even more deeply at our secondary schools.”

The North Star accountability system identifies schools and districts for support every three years. Complete results are available on MDE’s Minnesota Report Card at .

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