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Minnesota accountability results ‘encouraging’ for Marshall

Data shows students meeting math, reading standards at above-average rates

MARSHALL — Marshall Public Schools were doing better than average on statewide accountability measures last year, school officials said Monday. Data from Minnesota’s North Star school accountability system showed Marshall students meeting grade levels for math and reading at higher rates than students statewide.

“These numbers look encouraging,” said Jeremy Williams, director of teaching and learning for Marshall Public Schools. At the same time, demographics in the school district are changing, which will also have an effect on school programs and teaching, Williams said.

At a meeting of the Marshall School Board Monday afternoon, Williams presented a wide range of information, including MPS school demographics, test data and state accountability measures for the 2018-2019 school year.

“I wanted to walk through some of the data with you,” Williams said.

The North Star system looks at five main factors: student achievement and progress in reading, student achievement and progress in math, student progress toward English language proficiency, graduation rates and attendance.

Marshall students were achieving better than the statewide rate in math last year, Williams said. Statewide, 53.85% of students scored in the “meets standards” or “exceeds standards” levels on state tests. Across the school district, 60.37% of Marshall students met or exceeded math standards. On a school-by-school basis, West Side Elementary had a 55.98% math achievement rate, Marshall Middle School had a 64.52% math achievement rate, and Marshall High School had a 58.24% math achievement rate.

Across the district, 23.73% of Marshall students improved their math achievement level, compared to 13.34% of students statewide.

In terms of growth, Williams said,“West Side is one we are looking at.” Only 5.59% of students at West Side improved their math achievement level, compared to 28.45% of students at the middle school.

“Other buildings, it’s certainly exciting — to look at the increased percentage at the middle school, for example,” he said.

MPS also achieved a little better than the statewide rate in reading. Statewide, 58.28% of Minnesota students met or exceeded reading standards. Across the district, 60.01% of MPS students met or exceeded reading standards. At the middle school and high school, students had respective reading achievement rates of 61.39% and 72.27%. However, at West Side, only 51.25% of students met or exceeded reading standards.

Across the district, 17.76% of Marshall students improved in reading, compared to 18.87% of students statewide.

While West Side may not have shown as much growth in math, Williams said “There’s a lot of growth taking place” in reading. More than 20% of West Side students improved their reading achievement levels, compared to about 17% of students at the middle school.

Marshall students also made a lot of progress toward English language proficiency, especially in the elementary schools, Williams said.

“Our EL program has done a lot of things, looking at how to meet students’ needs, and how to group kids, and really aligning to the content taking place in the classroom,” he said.

District wide, 44.63% of Marshall EL students were meeting goals for English proficiency, compared to 40.13% of students statewide. On a school-by-school basis, Park Side and West Side each had English proficiency levels of around 54%. The middle school had a proficiency rate of 29.85%, and the high school had a proficiency rate of about 38%.

“I think about the population of Marshall compared to some of the districts around us, and you think about how many of our kids are coming to the high school with no language level, and we’re still at 38 percent in that category,” Williams said. It was exciting that students and teachers were making progress, he said.

Marshall High School had a four-year graduation rate of 80.66%, compared to 83.2% statewide. However, Williams said Marshall has a strong seven-year graduation rate, which reflected the progress being made by students who are learning English, and who may not have had much formal schooling. A little more than 94 percent of MHS students graduated within seven years, compared to 87.53% of students statewide.

“That’s some of those kids that are coming in with no education before getting here, low language levels, that kind of thing. Considering, in seven years, over 94% of those students have graduated,” Williams said.

School attendance rates were also strong at all grade levels in Marshall, Williams said. District wide, 95.84% of enrolled students were consistently attending school, compared to 85.35% of students statewide.

“Really, our kids are coming to school. I think that says a lot about our system as well,” Williams said.

Williams also presented demographic information on each of MPS’ school buildings.

A big percentage of Marshall elementary school students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, which is determined by a family’s income level, Williams said. More than 54% of students at Park Side Elementary and more than 56% of students at West Side Elementary qualified for free or reduced lunches.

“So seeing that demographic grow, that impacts our educational programming,” he said. The percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches was lower at the high school level, partly because there are more students from other communities coming to Marshall.

A little more than 25% of students at Park Side, and a little more than 24% of students at West Side, were English language learners, Williams said.

“So it’s really big at our elementary schools, those demographics are growing,” he said.

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