North View Junior High makes big strides in state ratings

Garden City and Park Brook also ‘celebration eligible’ under state’s new scoring system

BY JONATHAN YOUNG

Sun POST Newspapers

 

In May 2010, a Minnesota Department of Education report summarized North View Junior High’s performance in four words: “This school is poor.”

Despite that harsh assessment, the Brooklyn Park school has cause for celebration three years later.

Due to its performance last year, North View has leapt off the state’s list of “priority” schools and is now “celebration eligible,” according to results of the state’s 2013 Multiple Measurement Ratings, released Oct. 1.

Under the Multiple Measurement Ratings system, “priority” schools are in the bottom 5 percent statewide. “Celebration eligible” buildings fall between the 60 percent and 85 percent mark.

“We made a significant jump this year,” Principal John Groenke said. “We’re pretty excited about that.”

The state implemented the Multiple Measurement Ratings system as part its 2012 waiver from participation in the federal No Child Left Behind program.

“They did that because they wanted to go to a more equitable accountability system,” explained Don Pascoe, director of research, assessment and accountability for Osseo Area Schools. “It’s exactly what its name says – it’s multiple measures.”

The new system takes four areas into account: proficiency, growth, achievement gap closing and, at the secondary level, graduation rates.

Proficiency deals with traditional performance on tests compared to a standard, but growth looks at the improvement of individual students from year to year.

Gap closing measures how quickly underperforming groups are catching up to the leading group. For example, it shows how fast English Language Learners are catching up to native speakers or how fast ethnic minorities are catching up to their white counterparts.

Scores from all measured areas are rolled up into one score, which is written as a percentage of the total possible score. Pascoe likens it to a quarterback’s rating at the end of a game.

In Pascoe’s opinion, the new system measures schools on a more level playing field.

“When it’s straight proficiency, so much of that is driven by the demographics of the building and who happens to come there,” he said.

Many students at North View come to the school at a lower proficiency level, but they make progress quickly. In fact, the school’s students grew as fast or faster last year than students at 64 percent of other Minnesota schools.

That wasn’t the case a few years ago when Groenke came to North View as its new principal. He transferred from Edinbrook Elementary in order to lead the turnaround effort. Now, three years of hard work implementing a detailed plan are paying off, Groenke said.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive changes here that aren’t necessarily reported in the paper,” he said. “To have it actually validated was very rewarding.”

Groenke and his team have focused on improving the climate and culture among staff and students, building trust with students and the community, providing strong instruction and doing more to get families involved in education. There are also more support systems in place for students who need them.

“Our plan has been very focused,” he said. “It’s … a relentless effort to ensure that all kids are being successful.”

In order to get off the priority list, North View had to have stronger scores for two years in a row.

“We’re happy when schools like North View show really tremendous steps forward and they move up the pile a lot,” Pascoe said.

North View isn’t the only building that made significant progress. Garden City in Brooklyn Center and Park Brook Elementary in Brooklyn Park are both celebration eligible this year, as well.

Garden City Principal Todd Tischer said the good news is a momentum-builder for his team.

“We’re absolutely thrilled, of course, because the staff worked incredibly hard last year to focus on high quality education for every student,” he said. “We’re off to a good start this year. The energy is just terrific.”

But not all Osseo Area Schools received good scores this year. Crest View Elementary in Brooklyn Park got the lowest MMR score in the district, receiving only 10.25 percent of the total possible points. Palmer Lake Elementary was next lowest, with 14.34 percent. The schools were not in danger of being labeled priority schools this year because the state only assigns those categories every three years to allow time for implemented changes to take effect. But the scores are a warning sign.

Pascoe said the results didn’t catch the district off guard, because it received scores from its own testing in the spring.

“As soon as we get our first data in the spring, we start looking at those patterns and trying to think about how we support those sites that need it,” Pasco said.

He said schools sometimes fluctuate depending on many factors.

“We just need to respond to it quickly and appropriately,” he said.

Whatever a school’s score, the work isn’t done. Even as he reflects on his school’s progress, North View’s Groenke understands his team isn’t finished.

“We’re going to stop to celebrate and enjoy this moment, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

 

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

 
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