Despite its status as one of the lowest-funded school districts in the state, St. Michael-Albertville School District students continue to excel on standardized tests across the board, this time outpacing its statewide competition in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.
STMA students rank in the top 12.5 percent of Minnesota schools in academic achievement according to 2014 MCA combined reading and math rankings. Districtwide, students in District 885 had math ranks in the top 10 percent and reading in the top 15 percent. Not included in the statewide rankings, science scores ranked STMA students in the top 13 percent of districts.
Meanwhile, last week’s announcement of the district average ACT score of 24.1 ranked STMA seniors in the top 8 percent of high schools in Minnesota for career and college readiness.
“Two years ago the School Board set the goal of achieving academic rankings in the top 15 percent by 2016. We are excited to have reached the goal two years early,” said Dr. Jim Behle, superintendent of STMA schools.
Reporting on the percent of students proficient, STMA scored 10.2 percentage points higher than the state in reading, 15.4 points higher in math and 15.5 points higher in science.
|MCA Assessments||2013 Percent Proficient||2014 Percent Proficient|
While state MCA averages remained constant from 2013, STMA scores showed a 4.8 percent increase in the number of students proficient in reading, 3.4 percent increase in math and 3.6 percent increase in science. Every grade level out performed Minnesota grade level averages in the three academic areas. “Consistently high academic achievement is the result of supportive parents, engaged students and highly skilled teachers, administrators and support staff who have a laser-like focus on student learning and who continuously looking for ways to improve teaching and learning,” Behle said. In reviewing the results, Behle, now in his fourth full year, noted two important observations:
- 2014 is the second year students took reading tests based on more challenging standards and the percentage of students proficient increased 5percent. “This increase is significant compared to a 1 percent increase statewide. As STMA teachers and students become more familiar with the new standards, and as teachers better align their teaching and curriculum to teach the standards, we anticipated we would see growth in the test scores. STMA students are reading and understanding more complex content, resulting in them being better prepared for careers and college.”
- Grade 11 students took a new, more rigorous mathematics assessment which is aligned to higher academic standards. Yet, STMA’s scores showed a 3.4 percent increase in the percentage of students proficient in mathematics compared to 0.2 percent increase in the state average.
These yearly tests, required by state and federal law, are used as one tool to help schools gauge students’ progress in meeting expectations on Minnesota state standards for reading, math and science. Standards determine what students need to know and be able to do. Teachers and local school districts select the curriculum, materials and lessons to instruct students to meet expectations for careers and college. Each year the test results are used to identify the strengths and limitations of the educational program. A complete report of the MCA results will be made to the St. Michael-Albertville School Board and will be posted on the district website.