Langworthy calls DL math results 'unacceptable'

More Detroit Lakes students are expected to earn high school diplomas after passing the Minnesota Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma (GRAD) tests this year.

More Detroit Lakes students are expected to earn high school diplomas after passing the Minnesota Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma (GRAD) tests this year.

High school students in the district, which includes the Alternative Learning Center, scored above state average on the GRAD reading and math tests administered this spring.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 60.3 percent of 11th graders were considered proficient in math after taking the test on the first try, compared with 61.5 percent last year. The state average was 78.1 percent.

Tenth graders in the district performed well above state average in reading with 83 percent passing, compared with 78 percent last year. Statewide, 78 percent of students were considered proficient.

In writing, 9th graders scored slightly below state average, but more students passed this spring compared to last year.


While 90.58 percent of students statewide passed the writing, 89.25 percent of local students passed this year, compared to 86.76 percent last year.

The Detroit Lakes School Board reviewed the results at its monthly meeting Monday.

"I think we did OK and we can certainly do better," Education Director Lowell Niklaus told the board. "Until we hit 100 percent with everything, we can do better."

GRAD test results are calculated based on certain questions embedded in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA II) tests.

In 2008, the legislature passed a new law that made the reading, math and writing tests required for graduation.

"As soon as it became a GRAD test, for some reason the scores improved," Niklaus said.

But because some educators thought the math test was too difficult for some students and that graduation rates would have dropped drastically, new changes in the law were put into effect.

Juniors would either have to take the test and pass on the first, second or third try, or not pass after three times to earn a diploma.


The 40 percent of students who didn't meet proficiency in math this year will need to re-test. After re-testing once, they're required to participate in remediation before testing again, Detroit Lakes High School Principal Steve Morben said.

For the rest of the students in the district, the school board questioned why math scores were above state average in grades 3-5 and then dropping in 6th.

"It's something that's driven me absolutely crazy -- how does the state catch up?" board member Tom Seaworth said.

More than 69 percent of 5th graders passed math last year, while this year, 50 percent of the same group of students passed.

Board chairman Dave Langworthy called those results "unacceptable" and the rest of the board agreed that changes will need to be made.

"If the students are not understanding math in 6th grade, they're not going to understand it in 7th, 8th..." board member Tom Klyve said.

Niklaus said extensive data analysis will be crucial going forward -- identifying the problems and coming up with a plan to improve results.

"Analysis is important but results are more important," he said.


Seaworth said the data is not just about identifying the problems because the district does a good job of that already.

"We expect results to change," he added.

Science results will be released later this month, and the school board will review comprehensive Adequate Yearly Progress results at its August meeting.

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