WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- WWG — Since Minnesota received a waiver from the “No Child Left Behind” program, educators have been able to take the opportunity to analyze multiple measurements to track students progress.
The MMR calculations take into account proficiency, growth, achievement gap, and graduation rates in determining the level of individual schools. Schools are measured by elementary, middle, and secondary groups.
WWG’s elementary school was one of five area schools named to the top 15 percent and was recognized among 128 schools as a reward school.
Elementary school principal Paul Olson gives much of the credit to the the school’s After School Academy. The five teachers and para’s that work with the program see the kids’ needs in their regular classes and are able to focus on their math and reading schools in the after school program.
Olson said, “it is nothing bad, but all kids don’t learn at the same pace, so this reinforces what they are learning in the classroom.” Also he credits all of the teachers in the classroom that are doing a great job.
Test scores for the kids participating in the After School Academy have shown definite improvement.
Another thing Olson cited is the Homework Help Sessions on opposite days to the After School Academy also plays a big part.
Olson said “the testing is changing — it is getting harder — we have a lot more things we have to do to prepare the kids for secondary school. Kids today are learning things in third grade that were not introduced in 4th or 5th grade in the past.”
He said, “things that are being taught now in 3rd grade, I didn’t teach ten years ago when I taught 3rd grade.”
Superintendent Loy Woelber commented that our small class sizes in the elementary really help, “kids get a lot more individual attention in smaller classes.”
Woelber said, “it’s nice to be able to toot your horn about our reading and math scores, but what happens if we don’t test higher next year?”
“All this testing is good, but if our kids learn to respect people and are good to kids that have disabilities, I would be proud, but the state can’t measure that,” Woelber said. “But I wish they could, because our district and other rural districts produce a lot of well rounded kids.”
The new MMR doesn’t always tell the story, as some schools that performed in the 95 percentile were not recognized as a top school.
Woelber also cites the After School Academy for helping with the improved testing.
Woelber would like to see higher participation in the After School Programs. There are some kids that could use the extra help but do not take advantage of it.
He also feels providing free breakfast to all students has been a big difference maker.
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