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Some BEA state test scores show ‘need for improvement’

By Staff | Oct 19, 2014

Sometimes when a student does not do well on a test, the teacher writes a note across the top which reads “Needs improvement.”

That is precisely what Blue Earth Area School superintendent Evan Gough said has to happen after a report on state test scores was given at last Monday’s BEA School Board meeting.

The data dealt with several types of tests, but it was the MCA test scores which caused the most concern.

All of the results for different BEA grades were far below the state average in math, and a little below average in reading.

The Winnebago Elementary was at a 75 percent passing rate, which qualified it to be a ‘Celebration School.’ This means it was to be commended.

The Blue Earth Elementary and Blue Earth Area Middle schools, however, were at 33 percent and 37 percent respectively.

Those scores mean the schools are ‘Focus Schools’ which means more focus needs to be made on getting higher results on state tests.

“Although this is not a good situation, it does mean that we are now qualified for assistance from the Center for Excellence in Sartell,” Gough told the board. “We can access their resources and already support staff from Sartell are here to help us.”

The BEA High School had an 83 percent passing rate, which also makes them ‘Celebration’ eligible.

Gough noted that the high school’s students grades on the ACT Test are traditionally higher than the state average.

“This last year we were lower in science but very high in math and close to average in English,” Gough says. “And, Minnesota has traditionally had some of the highest ACT results in the nation, so to be close to the Minnesota average is still very good.”

Gough had a comment concerning the low test scores in the elementary and middle schools and the much higher scores in the high school and on the ACT testing.

“We seem to be doing a good job of preparing our students for college, but we have other issues going on in our schools,” he says. “We have definite areas where we need to improve. We can look at this as an opportunity to work better with staff, the board, students and their families.”

Gough also relayed information to the board concerning programs to help teachers, including a District Improvement Plan.

“We are looking at ways the staff can connect better with the students,” he said. “And we want ideas that can be implemented immediately, not just long range.”

The superintendent also gave reports concerning student numbers.

“We are at 48.9 percent of our students qualifying for free and reduced lunch,” Gough said. “That is down a bit from 49.1 percent last year.”

He noted the highest it has been was in 2011 when the number was 50.8 percent. In 2008, the figure was at 42 percent.

“We also know that 20 percent of our students live at what is defined as ‘below the poverty level,'” Gough says. “We need to have public and family involvement in some of these issues.”

The superintendent also reported that the enrollment at BEA Schools this year stands at 1,210, down slightly from last year’s total of 1,219.

High school principal Rich Schneider had some numbers of his own to report.

There are 84 students enrolled in advanced college level classes, 15 who are PSEO (post secondary education opportunity) enrolled at colleges, 24 students taking online classes and 66 students in AP (advanced placement) courses five in calculus, 23 in U.S. history and 38 in world history.

“Our eighth grade students in the high school will also be invited to join the FFA group,” Schneider told the board members.