News from Highland is more positive than negative, but it’s still included on a new state list, along with almost 500 other Minnesota schools

    The latest Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment data was publicly released Thursday, and Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson says he’s going over the myriad of numbers and statistics in advance of a full report to the school board when they next meet on Sept. 10.

    As far as an early snapshot, Olson said it looks like the district’s test scores decreased slightly in math, but increased overall in science and reading.

    The Minnesota Department of Education is changing the way it intervenes and otherwise works with school districts and individual schools that have through their attendance numbers, graduation rates or test scores indicated that they need various levels of intervention. The modified efforts are part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind. As part of the revamped initiative, 485 schools in Minnesota today find themselves for one of four reasons specified by the MDE:

    • Comprehensive support: Highest priority schools needing improvement across multiple measures.

    • Targeted support: Schools receiving support for one or more sub-groups of students.

    • Other support: These will receive training and networking opportunities.

    • Graduate rates: High schools that will receive support solely to improve graduation rates for one or more sub-groups.

    As far as Crookston goes, Highland Elementary School is on the list, under the “targeted support” label. The Fisher Elementary School is on the list as well, also under the “targeted support” criteria.

    Asked about Highland’s inclusion on the list, Olson said the new system of accountability is based on subgroups, “So even though we made some nice moves as a school, we were dinged for two subgroups.”

    Overall, Highland is above state average in reading and math, and below the state average in science by 1.4 percent.

    Olson begins his first year at the helm of the district striving to meet four goals previously identified by him and board members after various discussions. It’s likely that at some point a fifth goal under a heading resembling “student achievement” will be added, at Olson’s suggestion. He said he didn’t want to yet include a student achievement goal or any specific objections that would be included with the overall goal to be on his official list until he had a chance to go over the latest test data and determine the best strategies to make positive changes.

    Even so, at this week’s board meeting, as Olson’s very early efforts at starting to work toward achieving the four goals were touched on, board member Dave Davidson couldn’t hide his enthusiasm about the goal still not officially included on the list. “I’m really looking forward to goal five,” he said.

News & Notes

    A couple items of note from this week’s school board meeting:

    • After surveying area school districts to get their pay rates for substitute teachers, the board approved, at Olson’s recommendation, a full-day sub pay rate of $120 for 2018-19, the same rate as last year. Substitute teachers in East Grand Forks are paid $135 for a full day, and in Thief River Falls they’re paid $105. Other districts who responded pay anywhere from $105 to $110.

    Board Chair Frank Fee noted that the Fisher and Climax-Shelly school districts, where almost 200 Crookston kids open-enroll to, did not respond to Olson’s survey request. “That’s a shocker,” Fee deadpanned.

    • The board OK’ed salary lane advancement requests from a handful of teachers: Kristen Alston goes from MA to MA+10, Sara Geist goes from BA+40s to BA+50s, Rachel Hurner goes from BA+10s to BA+20s, Sarah (Kanten) Pester goes from BA to BA+10s, and Jennifer Solie goes from MA+10s to MA+20s.