“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
~Albert Einstein
The recently released Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) test results show that the administrators, faculty and staff at Yellow Medicine East will indeed have to spend more time to solve the problem of improving test scores.

    “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”  
~Albert Einstein
    The recently released Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) test results show that the administrators, faculty and staff at Yellow Medicine East will indeed have to spend more time to solve the problem of improving test scores.
    YME Superintendent Al Stoeckman shared this quote with staff last week after analyzing the results of the 2013 MCA III scores, Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) and Focus Rating (FR) for Bert Raney Elementary and YME High School.
    For the third year, YME is identified as a Focus School.  The FR is a secondary rating within the MMR that measures schools specifically on the performance of student subgroups that exhibit a statistical achievement gap.  YME’s ethnic population is noted as 69.2 percent white, 15.5 percent American Indian, 12.3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent Black. The FR from Bert Raney Elementary (BRE) has trended downward since 2010 with a 35.26 percent to 2011 with an 18.62 percent and in 2012 the rating was listed as 6.51 percent.  The high school FR has fluctuated up and down with the 2010 rating at 28.42, the 2011 rating at 30.6 and the 2012 at 23.36.
    The FR places YME in the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools in the state.
    The MMR trends mirror the FR trends. In 2010 BRE was given a 33.65 percent rating, in 2011 a 26.91 percent rating and in 2012 an 8.9 percent rating.  The high school MMR shows a slightly upward trend.  In 2010 the high school was given a 39.1 percent rating, in 2011 a 46.62 percent rating and in 2012 a 47.15 percent rating.  The MMR considers the proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction and the graduation rates of schools.
    The MCA III reading, math and science scores showed a decline in every grade tested with the exception of the students in eighth grade science and eleventh grade math where test results showed growth.
    Stoeckman indicated that the school will continue working through the improvement plan submitted to the state to identify “at risk” students in BRE, the middle school and the high school.  Under performing students at BRE will continue to be given one-on-one re-teaching opportunities, the staff is focusing on unpacking the standards to look at the benchmarks and to determine what students need to know and during the regular class day, teachers will introduce ‘double dipping’ and ‘triple dipping’ into the math curriculum.  Studies have shown that during the core instruction lesson up to 80 percent of the students grasp the concept, when revisited later in the day, an additional 15 percent grasp the concept and when a ‘third’ dip into the lesson is provided for the students the last 5 percent grasp the concept.  “The double and triple dipping is a valuable way to intervene and provide multiple opportunities for students to learn,” shared Stoeckman.
    The middle school continues to offer a math course designed to provide intervention to underperforming students with learning opportunities that will prepare them for more advanced math courses.
    A specific English class has been implemented for seventh and eighth grade students that utilizes the Read 180 curriculum to improve reading skills.
    In response to the overall poor MCA III scores, the MMR and FR rating, Superintendent Stoeckman’s response was forceful.  “We will make no excuses. We will genuinely reflect on our teaching practices to meet the needs of our current students.”
    When asked how he plans to implement his ‘no excuse’ policy he indicated that the process will begin through the district’s Professional Learning Communities (PLC).  Every certified teacher is assigned to a PLC.  “We will use the PLC to do a better job of accountability.”  He indicated that through peer observations colleagues will be able to help colleagues improve. “We can no longer teach in isolation.” He indicated that through open communication and positive feedback ‘blind spots’ in teaching practices will become apparent and teachers can focus on improving those teaching practices.
    Stoeckman indicated that the focus on growth for the entire staff will be to develop an atmosphere of grit in the classroom.  “Grit - that’s the attitude, ‘It’s tough, but we can do it’. We need to expect more of ourselves and our students and to help develop grit.”
    While Stoeckman is taking a “no excuse” policy, MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius explained in a recent news release that the 2013 reading test was based on new rigorous standards to help ensure students are career and college ready  upon high school graduation.  “Anytime a new test based on new standards is given, a drop in scores is to be expected,” stated Cassellius. “But setting high expectations is the right thing to do. If we want our students to compete in a global economy, we must continue to stretch and hold ourselves accountable for helping students meet higher standards.”

2013 test results
Graduation tests:
•10th grade reading: 51.9 percent passed; down 26.9 percent.  State average 62.3 percent
•11th grade math: 39.7 percent passed; up 4.9 percent.  State average 52.4 percent.

•Grade 4: 26.8 percent passed; down 33.7 percent. State average 54 percent.
•Grade 5: 51.1 percent passed; down 7 percent.  State average 63.8 percent.
•Grade 6: 38 percent passed; down 29.8 percent. State average 59.3 percent.
•Grade 7: 47 percent passed; down 16.2 percent. State average 54 percent.
•Grade 8: 44.4 percent passed; down 15.6 percent. State average 54.1 percent.
•Grade 4: 46.4 percent passed; down 15.8 percent. State average 71.2 percent.
•Grade 5: 40.4 percent passed; down 7.5 percent. State average 60 percent.
•Grade 6: 35.2 percent passed; down 8.6 percent. State average 57 percent.
•Grade 7: 20.9 percent passed; down 35.8 percent. State average 56 percent.
•Grade 8: 44.4 percent passed; down 4.1 percent. State average 58.9 percent.
•Grade 5: 31.9 percent passed; down 10.7 percent. State average 50.5 percent.
•Grade 8: 31.6 percent passed, up 8.1 percent.  State average 43.8 percent.
•HS Life Science: 35.9 percent passed; down 1 percent. State average 53 percent.