District 11 students see gains in math, reading scores

Kelly Johnson

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Test results are in and things are looking good for students in Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 as well as statewide.

For the seventh straight year, the district average scores for District 11 students on state reading and math tests beat the state average. In reading, those scores were especially strong.

Students in grades three through eight and 10th grades took the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) II reading test. Anoka-Hennepin students beat the statewide numbers across all grade levels in the percent of students that meet or exceed the reading standards.

Statewide, 80.4 percent of third-graders meet or exceed the standards. That number is 80.4 percent in District 11. Fourth-graders statewide met or exceeded the standard at a total of 75.3 percent. In District 11, that number is 79.7 percent. Fifth-graders statewide meeting that benchmark total 79.3 percent compared with 85.4 percent of student in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

Statewide, 76.2 percent of sixth-graders meet or exceed the reading standard. In District 11, that number is 77.3 percent. Seventh-graders throughout the state meet or exceed the standard at a rate of 71.4 percent. District 11’s numbers are 75.3 percent. Eighth-graders statewide meet or exceed the reading standard at 72.4 percent, with 75.3 percent of District 11 eighth-graders doing the same.

Statewide, 10th-graders meet or exceed the reading standard at a rate of 76.8 percent. That number is 82.1 percent in District 11.

“Our focus on reading is moving us in the right direction with slow but steady increases in the percentage of students who achieved proficiency. We have made significant improvement over the years,” said Mary Wolverton, associate superintendent-elementary.

Although not as strong as reading, the district’s average percentage of students scoring as proficient in the state MCA math tests increased as well from last year and beat the state average.

Students in grades three through eight took the MCA-III math test. Students in grade 11 took the MCA-II math test.

Elementary students overall turned in the strongest math performance, with just over 76 percent of students achieving proficiency.

Broken down, 79.3 percent of third-graders districtwide met or exceeded the standard, compared to 74.8 percent statewide. In fourth grade, that percent was 79 districtwide and 73.3 statewide. Fifth-graders met or exceeded the standard at 70.4 percent in District 11 and 62.3 percent statewide.

In middle school and high school, the results are not quite as good.

In sixth grade, 59.5 percent in District 11 met or exceeded the standard, while that number is 59.8 percent statewide. Seventh-graders saw 57.8 percent meeting or exceeding the standard in the district and 58.6 percent doing so across the state. As for students in eighth grade, the percentages are 59.4 in the district and 62 statewide.

In 11th grade, 42.1 percent of students are meeting or exceeding the standard, compared to 41.8 percent statewide.

“We are concerned about the performance of our middle and high school students in mathematics. They are not doing as well as they need to be,” said Ellen Delaney, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at the secondary level.

For a second year the district will bring in national expert Tim Kanold and his associates to observe middle and high school math teachers at work and then provide feedback on additional instructional techniques.

“When we were in school we learned math largely through rote memorization of formulas. That worked for some kids, but not for all. When I began teaching there was no expectation that all students could learn complex math,” Delaney said. “That thinking changed in the last 10 years.”

Beginning with this year’s sophomore class, all students must take three years of math and complete algebra II to graduate.

“Dr. Kanold and his associates will help our teachers use some of the new research-based methodologies to help all students learn complex math,” Delaney said.