Schools column: Laura MacArthur School sees gains in closing achievement gapWhat a difference a year can make! I am proud of the progress many of our schools are making in raising student achievement and closing the achievement gap — especially at Laura MacArthur Elementary.
By: Bill Gronseth, For the Budgeteer News
What a difference a year can make!
I am proud of the progress many of our schools are making in raising student achievement and closing the achievement gap — especially at Laura MacArthur Elementary. It was just a year ago that Laura MacArthur was identified as a priority school. Since then additional resources provided through a state grant and a great deal of focused effort by educators, students, and families have resulted in some pretty impressive results that I am excited to share.
This week, the Minnesota Department of Education released Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) for schools. MMR is how Minnesota measures school progress toward closing the achievement gap and ensuring all students are learning. Most ISD 709 schools saw gains; you can see how all of our schools did by going to www.ISD709.org.
All schools have the following three areas factored into their MMR:
Proficiency: The ability to pass important tests. Schools get more proficiency points as all groups become proficient, including students from poverty, students of color, students receiving special education services, and students with limited English proficiency.
Growth: How much individual students grow on their test scores from year to year.
Achievement Gap: Ensuring all students have an equal opportunity to learn. The achievement gap is the difference in growth between students from poverty and those who are not, students of color and white students, students receiving special education services and those who don’t, students that don’t have English as their primary language and those that do.
For high schools, MMR also includes one more area:
Graduation: The ability for all students, including students in designated subgroups, to graduate within 4 years.
I’d like to talk about one school in particular, Laura MacArthur Elementary. In the spring of 2012, the State designated Laura MacArthur a Priority school. In other words, there was a large achievement gap and not enough student growth, reflected in an MMR of 3.49 out of a possible 100.
This week, the State released new results, showing Laura MacArthur with an MMR of 64.91. That’s a lot of growth in just a little over a year.
How did that happen? When it comes to education, there are many factors that contribute to such success. Strong leadership within the school, active and ongoing support from parents and the community, ongoing training for teachers, regularly scheduled time for teachers to collaborate and work together to study student data and identify effective interventions, and funding to pay for those interventions, among others.
Laura MacArthur is an excellent example of how financial resources can be thoughtfully, strategically and efficiently used to make a real impact on student achievement — of what we mean when we say that funding from the November 5 Education Levy referendum will be used to increase student achievement and help close the achievement gap.
I’m proud of the work being done by the staff, parents and community members at Laura MacArthur. With the right combination of human resources, a spirit of commitment and cooperation, a focus on the classroom and access to financial resources, I believe it’s possible for all of Duluth’s schools to reach high levels of student achievement.
In doing so, we’ll create a stronger community for us all.
Bill Gronseth is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at (218)336-8752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.