New school assessments take some getting used to - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New school assessments take some getting used to

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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC)- With No Child Left Behind in the rearview mirror, Minnesota schools are now looking at the new performance rating system, the Multiple Measurement Rating, to tell how they measure up.

On Tuesday, they are reviewing those results in Austin and Albert Lea. 

There are significant differences between the old system and the new ratings system they are getting used to now, but one thing is for certain: they have more information to work with and they feel more confident in their abilities to enact change.

The new way of analyzing where a school ranks in academic standards is now installed and the data is now open for review. For Albert Lea, that means a new way of looking at things.

"I appreciate the new method to the testing and scoring of students because it not only takes proficiency into account but it takes into account student growth as well," explains Dr. Michael Funk, Superintendent of Albert Lea schools.

In the previous system, Sibley Elementary in Albert Lea struggled to meet the requirements for a passing grade, but now with more information being analyzed, Sibley is a Reward School, or a school that meets the standards and is improving.

In the new MMR system, it is older data being used to set the initial benchmark.

"They took two years into account," says Funk. "They took test data from 2009-2010 and used that as a base line and then they took test data from 2010-2011 and did a comparison."

For the Austin school district, they are seeing a pattern form improvement through the entire system.

"We've had some indication that the math scores will be a little bit better than in previous years," explains John Alperts, the Educational Services Director with Austin schools. "Reading, we just finished that up, and that's a paper/pencil assessment where we'll be sending that off to the state."

Southgate Elementary in Austin is rated as a Focus School, not meeting certain academic requirements. Instead of being punished by having funds withheld like in the previous system, there may be ways to help out the school financially.

"Now, the local has more control over the use of those dollars toward those improvement efforts," says Alperts. "And ultimately, we at the local level have to go through improvement planning."

With a new system comes new rules, and new rules means an adjustment period. Area schools will use this data as a stepping stone to see where they need to improve to keep on measuring up. 

The new data from this past year will come out later this summer, so the districts will then have updated information to work with as they go into the new school year.

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