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Minnetonka Schools Top on State Tests

Minnesota Department of Education released state test scores on Aug. 1. Minnetonka is #1 in Math and #2 in Reading in the Metro Area.

The following was released by Minnetonka Schools:

Minnetonka students continue to excel academically by scoring among the top districts in the state on the MCA-II (Minnesota Comprehension Assessment) reading test and the MCA-III math test.

Overall, 92 percent of Minnetonka students are proficient in reading and 85 percent are proficient in math.

In Metro area rankings, Minnetonka students are #1 in math and a close second to Edina in reading. Scores exceeded the state totals of 76 percent proficiency in reading and 62 percent proficiency in math. 

“In Minnetonka, we are really focused on student growth—meeting each child at his/her learning level and inspiring higher levels of achievement,” said Minnetonka Superintendent Dennis Peterson. “Under the direction of our highly qualified teachers, we believe there is no limit to what the human mind can learn."

Peterson said setting high expectations for all students and supporting their growth regardless of their learning level yields strong results and the district has seen similar gains on other local and nationally-normed assessments.

"For example, our NWEA scores indicate that at the end of fifth grade, the average Minnetonka student is reading at the 11th grade level," he said.

In comparing Minnetonka to Metro area schools, Minnetonka students performed better than any other district, with the highest percent proficient in math and the second highest percent proficient in reading.

Minnetonka Middle Schools were exceptionally strong.

East (MME) with 87 percent proficient in math and 91 percent proficient in reading ties West (MMW) in math and leads by only two percentage points in reading.

They lead both Edina middle schools, all three Wayzata middle schools (except Wayzata Central in math with 88 percent), and all Eden Prairie and Hopkins middle, Jr. high and intermediate schools. 

At the high school level, Minnetonka—with 71 percent proficient in math and 94 percent proficient in reading—trails Edina in math and reading by one percentage point, ties Wayzata in math and leads in reading by one point, and leads both Eden Prairie and Hopkins high schools. 

Top 5 Metro Districts in Math Top 5 Metro Districts in Reading Minnetonka 85% Edina 93% Wayzata 84% Minnetonka 92%
Mahtomedi 82% Mahtomedi 92% Delano 81% Orono 91% Lakeville 81% Wayzata 91%

 

The state testing program will provide the foundation for the state’s school accountability ratings to be released later this month is accordance with Minnesota’s waiver for federal No Child Left Behind Act. The high standards in math and reading are designed to meet federal Department of Education goals of all high school graduates to be college and career ready

Gains in Math

The MCA III is a rigorous test designed for the high graduation standards in math, including all students completing Algebra by eighth grade and mastering Higher Algebra II/Trigonometry skills in order to graduate high school.

In recent years, Minnetonka has focused on raising math achievement (video link) and the gains have been significant; but this year’s gains are even more significant than past years, in part due to a change in test administration guidelines. For 2012, the State allowed students in grades 3–8 an opportunity to retake the test within a defined testing window, waiting at least 14 days between attempts.

In Minnetonka, students who were within 5 points of the next level of proficiency were invited to retake the math exam one time.

“It is only in K-12 schooling that we have historically given students only one chance to demonstrate their learning before they are asked to move on to the next topic; this is not good practice," Peterson said. "Even lawyers and accountants may retake their licensing exam, if they fall short the first time. Our emphasis needs to be on measuring the learning, not just testing. It is a subtle but important difference.”

In Minnetonka elementary and middle school math options are differentiated to challenge students at their level and allow them to excel. Elementary students may accelerate in math beginning in fourth grade. Sixth grade students may enroll in sixth grade math, pre-algebra or algebra and by eighth grade about ten percent of students will complete higher algebra II (traditionally an eleventh grade course).

At the high school, diagnostic testing pinpoints student proficiency by content, so instruction can be targeted to fill foundational gaps and move students to their next level. Minnetonka teachers have video podcasts of lessons for students to review or relearn specific formulas or functions in math, in addition to before and after school help programs. An area of growth can be seen in the eleventh grade math results.

In 2007, only half of students met state standards. In 2012, 71 percent of students have met or exceeded the standards, with 40 percent achieving at the state’s highest level. To keep up with rising levels of math achievement developed in the lower grades, Minnetonka High School has increased the number of sections in AP and IB math courses and added Multi-variable Calculus for our most motivated and adept math students.

Adding support for struggling learners, the district has seen strong success with Response to Intervention (RtI) strategies for elementary and middle school reading and math. RtI relies on early identification and intense intervention for learners who struggle, but who do not qualify for special education or Title I services. Achieving success in reading shows students they can be successful in all other subjects, since reading and writing are the foundation for most learning.

David F August 13, 2012 at 01:07 AM
why are we so infatuated with how MN school districts are doing compared to each other? How are we doing against the global world that is the real competition in our children's future?
Lewis C February 17, 2013 at 05:07 PM
David F and Becky Glander, it's true comparing Minnesota globally is important, but it's also important to realize these standardized tests are meaningless. You should simply ask students what their parents make for a living and how far the went with their educations, because this is what these tests are based on. Education researchers like myself know these tests have little to nothing to do with what goes on in the classroom. They're tied to class, education of the parents, and race. Pointing out how well Minnetonka schools do on the test is just like pointing out how wealthy Minnetonka is. These tests aren't designed to measure quality, they're designed to compare students, which leads to class explaining 70% of the variation in test scores. There's a reason Martin Luther King, Jr. failed miserably on his GRE assessments, including the verbal portion.

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