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Roosevelt recognized for progress in reading

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Roosevelt Elementary School has received state recognition for the progress its multiracial students have made in reading.

The Detroit Lakes school is one of 171 schools in the state — the top 5 percent of all schools in Minnesota — to receive the recognition, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced last week.

Roosevelt students who identify as multiracial (being of two or more races) were found to be making significant achievement on reading progress over time, under MDE's new North Star accountability system.

Fourteen percent of Roosevelt's student population identifies as multiracial.

Roosevelt Principal Trisha Mariotti said the recognition is a direct reflection of the extra attention that the school and school district have been paying to literacy in recent years, and she commended her staff and students.

"I'm really proud of the work that we do at Roosevelt, and I think it's a great feeling for our staff to be acknowledged for their efforts," she said. "And our students have worked really hard — they're the reason that we're here."

Over the past two or three years, Roosevelt has implemented new reading initiatives that focus on building students' vocabularies and improving their reading skills and comprehension. A school-wide reading intervention program called PRESS (Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites), for example, provides resources and professional development opportunities designed to benefit young readers.

The school also partakes in guided reading exercises, which bring students who are all at the same reading level together to read in small groups. In addition, teachers were recently trained to lead interactive Read Alouds, which encourage class discussion and critical thinking about stories.

"I think our teachers have done very well preparing lessons around those Read Alouds," said Mariotti. "Questioning is very specific, so you can pull out some vocabulary terms during the reading of the story, and it's natural for kids to listen and discuss the story (as a class)."

The state's new North Star system measures reading progress by mining school accountability data, including student scores on state standardized tests. It breaks the data down into subgroups of students, including the new "multiracial" subgroup, in an attempt to help close academic achievement gaps.

The system looks not just at a current year's test scores, but at scores from year to year — an approach experts believe provides a more comprehensive picture of what's happening in schools. It measures progress in reading as well as in math and ELL proficiency, and also monitors graduation and attendance rates at schools — these five things are considered key indicators of school performance and student achievement.

Last week, MDE recognized 526 public schools in Minnesota (out of more than 2,100 schools in the state) for excellence across all these areas. It also identified 485 schools that could use more support in at least one of the areas.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 3-year-old son and baby daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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