Austin School Board reviews MCA scoresPublished 10:10am Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The Austin Public Schools board learned how well Austin students did on this year’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments during a work session Monday. Yet the data by itself can’t tell the district much about what teachers can improve in the classroom.
“We don’t really have a comparative,” Educational Services Director John Alberts said Monday.
State education officials introduced a new reading test this year, as well as allowed students to take math assessments online. The Minnesota Department of Education also removed the “three strikes” rule this year, which allowed high school juniors to fail the MCA math exam to take it up to three times, with no penalties should they repeatedly fail, before graduating.
Because of these changes, state officials have cautioned districts against making comparisons to previous years.
For the past several years, Austin students have scored slightly below state averages on the MCAs. The district did show strong scores in elementary math, as more than half of third- and fourth-graders in Austin passed the MCA math portion, with almost 70 percent of third-graders meeting or exceeding MCA benchmarks.
Alberts said the district hopes to use ScanTron testing later this winter to see whether students are on track to do well. In addition, Austin High School plans to have all juniors and seniors take the ACT at least once as another learning benchmark.
School board member Mary Jane Kestner welcomed ACT testing as another indicator of student progress.
“Our students can compare their scores with people outside our own state,” she said. “You have a wider, bigger perspective.”
Kestner said the ACT, combined with ScanTron testing, which can narrowly determine how well a student knows a subject, would act as good benchmarks for the district.
“We shouldn’t be moving backwards as far as evaluations go,” she said.
The district will find out how well students fared in the state’s Multiple Measurement Ratings, the school grading system which replaced Adequate Yearly Progress scores last year, when this year’s results are released next week.