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Elementary schools honored by state

Educators in the Detroit Lakes School District are smiling today, as test results prove its two elementary schools are top-notch.

Education Director Lowell Niklaus presented the results from the Minnesota Multiple Measures Report to the school board Monday night.

Roosevelt Elementary has been designated a “Celebration School,” which puts it in the top 10 percent of Title I schools in Minnesota.

Out of 100 possible points on the MMR, Roosevelt students scored 86.19, which is a big jump from their scores last year of 68.35.

Rossman also earned accolades as a Celebration Eligible School, putting them in the top 10 to 25 percent of the state.

Their scores jumped from 47.19 last year to 61.13 this year.

“I’ll quote Superintendent Doug Froke here, when he said, ‘Don’t look now, but it’s working,’” said Niklaus, referring to a number of changes the district has made over the past couple of years, including professional learning communities for teachers and staff and other curriculum changes.

“The different things our teachers are doing in the classroom now with all the work we’ve put into curriculum and instruction, it’s starting to show, and I think it’s very positive for the district,” said Nicklaus.

The high school also saw improvements on the MMR’s with an increased score of 79.19 from 75.2 percent, but neither the high school or middle school can receive designations, as they are not Title I schools.

He said the only other schools in the area that received the designation of Celebration Schools are Frazee Elementary and Hawley Elementary.

“A congratulations to our administration and staff,” said Tom Seaworth, school board member. “A number of years ago we talked about scores we weren’t happy with, and they’ve gone through a lot of hard work and a lot of changes that aren’t always easy.”

Niklaus says a new online software program that the district is using called Study Island, has been a great tool in increasing learning and test results.

He says each individual child’s MMR test results are loaded into the system with the questions they missed, which then turns around and identifies the areas where each child needs work.

Students use Study Island on a daily basis for enrichment activities, and can also be accessed online by parents to keep track of their student’s homework and tests.

Niklaus says Study Island is one of the new changes that appear to be making a huge difference in test scores.

“With the MMR comes growth targets in every area of academics,” said Niklaus, “and we are meeting or exceeding those targets in almost every area, in most cases we’re doing very, very well.”

Adequate yearly progress, or AYP, is measured from year to year to determine if students are making academic strides.

Although states like Minnesota are now exempt from the federal consequences that come with failing to meet AYP, it’s still measured, particularly to see if achievement gaps in sub-groups like racial minorities, special education students and those living in poverty are closing at all.

In Detroit Lakes this year, AYP was excellent, according to Niklaus.

“It’s probably the best it’s been since I’ve been here, since it came out,” he said.