Students’ test results assessed

FAIRMONT – Last year, Fairmont Area Schools seventh-graders had trouble passing their standardized tests, but fourth- and 10th-graders outdid themselves.

Jodi Kristenson, reading intervention teacher at Fairmont Elementary, has summarized test data from 2012-2013, pointing out strengths and weaknesses of the district in the results.

“This is an autopsy,” she told the school board on Tuesday “This is last year’s information.”

Kristenson used data from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests for reading and math, which are tests used by the state to determine how well the district is doing under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. She also turned to Aimsweb Assessments, which offer data about youngers students’ achievement. NWEA Measures of Academic Progress results showed whether students are growing in their skills within a single school year. Combining the results from these assessments gave her an idea of how many students know their stuff and how many are making progress toward meeting their goals.

Overall, fourth- and 10th-graders showed high growth over the course of the year in mathematics. In several grade levels, students who did not meet proficiency did make their growth targets.

On the other hand, students who showed themselves proficient didn’t always continue to grow at the rate expected, and seventh-graders showed they are struggling with math and reading.

Kristenson will look closer into the data, but suspects the problem the seventh-graders had could begin with the sixth-grade curriculum.

“Their growth was reasonably good,” she said, “but they didn’t have proficiency.”

The district is addressing the issues raised during the assessment analysis with its Educational Improvement Plan, which outlines citizenship, reading and mathematics goals.

Despite what may seem like troubled test results in certain grade levels, Kristenson said students end up doing well on their graduation tests.

“This is the strength of the district,” she said. “We have all our students, with the exception of one or two, pass their graduation tests.”

In other business Tuesday, the school board approved a proposed 2 percent local property tax levy increase over 2013.

According to Superintendent Joe Brown, the district had the authority from the state to raise the levy 6.3 percent.

The levy for 2014 is proposed at $5.57 million, an increase of $109,372.