District pores over test results

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Recently released testing results from the Minnesota Department of Education provide a wealth of information to the school district, but learning just how to use that information is an issue facing the New Prague Area Schools.

Colleen Cardenuto, the school district's Director of Testing and Curriculum, Tony Buthe, Special Services Director, and Tim Rybak, Operations Director, gave a presentation to the New Prague Area School Board during its meeting Monday, Aug. 24, showing what the data says and how it is being utilized.

Cardenuto reviewed overall test results with the board. As reported in last week's issue of The New Prague Times, the district has been classified as Not Making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) due to test results involving special education students at Raven Stream Elementary and New Prague Middle School.

But those numbers tell just part of the story, Cardenuto said. She showed charts comparing New Prague's scores at the high school, middle school and elementary schools to those of eight other comparative districts that New Prague has used over the past few years. Those districts were chosen because of similar size and demographics.

New Prague compared favorably to the other districts in most categories at the high school and middle school levels and had mixed results at the elementary level, although Falcon Ridge showed strong results in most areas.

Buthe said the results in the areas of special education are being taken seriously by the district - especially in terms of reading. Among the steps being taken, the staff is implementing a new reading program in special education classes. He said some of the schools will also be looking at the program - called Read 180 - for non-special education students who need help.

Board chair Bob Reed noted that while math and science scores seem to be improving, a continuing area of district-wide concern is reading.

Is there something more comprehensive from a district standpoint that we need to look at? he asked.

Superintendent Craig Menozzi said that the district is taking a look at how it is approaching the reading and language arts curriculum and looking for areas to improve.

In the final part of the presentation Rybak showed how the data from the state is being made available to teachers so they can assess the needs of individual students. Teachers can access test results and find out how individual students did in different strands of learning.

They can look up each students' strengths and weaknesses and make decisions based on that. If the data shows a student excels in the ability to multiply by fours

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