Princeton Public Schools are not classified as a reward school district, nor as a priority or focus district under the state’s most recent multiple measurement rating of schools across the state.
The measurement rating is a Minnesota Department of Education system to monitor the performance of schools. It also requires priority schools and focus schools to work on strategies with the state to make improvements.
Priority schools are in the 5 percent of the most-persistently low-performing schools in the state. Focus schools are among the 10 percent of Title 1 schools contributing to the achievement gap in the state and schools with graduation rates of less than 60 percent.
The achievement gap in the case of Princeton schools refers to the gap in test scores between special education and non-special education students; students eligible for free and reduced lunch and those not eligible; and between those who speak English as a native language and those who do not.
The Department of Education set up the rating system when Minnesota was granted a waiver in February 2012 from the controversial federal No Child Left Behind rules.
The rating results released last week are based on schools’ test scores during the 2012-13 school year.
Princeton native Keith Hovis, now deputy communications director at the Department of Education, said that the department is seeing growth in schools across the state through the scores.
He noted this week that 17 schools that had been classified as priority last school year and 10 that were focus schools were able to exit from that status this year. Priority and focus schools had to show the necessary improvements for two years before they could drop those classifications, and this is the third year of these ratings, Hovis said.
Princeton School District Director of Teaching and Learning Mindy Jezierski didn’t make any statements overall about Princeton Public Schools’ middle status. She did say that staff members at both the district and individual schools are working toward specific student achievement goals.
The state wants the schools to close their achievement gaps by 50 percent by 2017, Jezierski noted. Among the steps the staff members are taking, according to Jezierski, are:
• Ongoing review of individual student data.
• Additional academic support and tutoring.
• Leveraging parent and community support.
• Working with groups like Minnesota Math and Reading Corps.
Reviewing the information and adjusting strategies will go on throughout the school year, and it is important to work with local citizens and leaders to close achievement gaps, Jezierski said.
Rating calculations are based on a combination of proficiency, individual student growth and achievement-gap reduction for all of Princeton’s four classroom buildings, which are the high school, middle school, South Elementary and North Elementary. Four-year graduation rates are also looked at for the high school.
For an example of how the rating scores work, Jezierski started with the high school. It received points in four categories, and those are added. The high school was given 4.85 points for proficiency, 5.34 points for growth, 5.29 points for achievement-gap reduction, and 24.96 percent for graduation rate. The total is 40.44 points out of a possible 100 points.
The middle school had 4.06 points for proficiency, 6.61 for growth, and 6.83 for achievement-gap reduction, for a score of 17.5 points out of a possible 75.
North Elementary had 7.56 points in proficiency, 8.7 in growth, and 5.95 in achievement-gap reduction for a total 22.21 points out of a possible 75.
South Elementary, which has grades K-2, does not receive a rating.
Jezierski said growth in school performance comes from strong leadership in the school, active and ongoing support from parents and the community and ongoing teacher training support.
Teachers also need scheduled time to collaborate and study student data and identify interventions that get funding support, Jezierski said.
“We are fortunate in Princeton to have the skilled staff and supportive community behind our students,” Jezierski added.