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Test scores improve at BEA

By Staff | Aug 17, 2009

Dale Brandsoy

Blue Earth Area School District is off the list for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progressive. Well, almost.

Test results for this year show all grade levels met or exceeded requirements.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says students, staff and parents that supported the district’s plan to improve test scores should be congratulated.

“We’re excited about it. There was an awareness of testing, and it paid off,” says Brandsoy.

The past two years BEA has not made AYP, so a consultant was hired.

Elementary principal Kevin Grant says the test results are a huge accomplishment because requirements for passing get tougher each year.

“This is very, very good news. This is a good first step,” says Grant. “Technically, we have to be offanother year to be totally clear.”

Students fared well in the Northwest Evaluation Association test for grades kindergarten through fifth.

The results indicate whether each grade level met requirements for math, reading and language.

Seventeen sections met or exceeded expectations, while 11 fell short.

“There are some really nice gains made. It looks better than it did a year ago,” Grant says.

In grades 3 and 4, 85 percent of the students passed in addition, as did 81 percent of the fifth-graders.

Fifth grade had 70 percent passing in subtraction; third grade, 69 percent; and fourth grade, 65 percent.

Fifth-graders again had the highest number passing in multiplication with 64 percent, followed by fourth grade with 63 and third grade, 46.

In the “Dolch” words mastery — important words students must learn — 98 percent of the fifth-graders passed; 94 percent in grade four; 89 percent of the second-graders; and 86 percent in grade three.

Results also show 4 percent fewer students that were tested scored in the lowest level, while nearly 4 percent more were in the top portion.

“We had fewer kids doing really poor and more exceeding,” Grant says. “The challenge is to do better by 4 or 5 percent again.”

While science is a challenge for area districts, Blue Earth elementary students did well.

“They scored better than the state average. The Winnebago Elementary School did very well, scored very high,” says Grant.

Middle school principal Melissa McGuire says it’s hard to develop testing trends because science standards change every three years and other tests change at least every five years.

She says it takes seven years to accumulate accurate data trends.

High schoolers taking the math test required for graduation also improved over last year.

Principal Jack Eustice says 69 percent passed and that was higher than several area schools.

For those who didn’t pass, they’ll have to attend review sessions before retaking the test.

Eustice says some metro districts had a passing rate below 50 percent.

“They’re dealing with 8,000 students,” he says. “Our numbers are closer to a little bit less than 20.”