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RMS, RHS fall short of state's academic progress goals

Two Rosemount schools and 17 schools in Independent School District 196 are on the state's list of schools failing to make adequate yearly academic progress.

Rosemount Middle School and Rosemount High School both made the state's AYP list of underperforming schools, as did every other middle- and high school in the district. It is the third straight year RMS has been on the list, which is based largely on students' performance on statewide Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests in reading and math. RHS has been on the list two of the last three years.

Superintendent John Currie was not surprised to see the increased number of schools on the AYP list. State standards get tougher every year and schools -- and entire districts -- qualify for the AYP list if just one sub-group of students fails to meet those standards.

"Unless changes are made in the law, virtually every school in the state will be judged as not making AYP in the near future," Currie said.

At RMS, special education students and students who receive free or reduced-price lunches failed to meet standards on the MCA math test. RHS special education students also fell short on the math test.

Still, RMS principal Mary Thompson chose to see the results as encouraging. She's seen progress among groups of students previously identified for poor performance. Last year, the school's special education students failed to meet standards on the MCA reading test. This year they passed despite the stricter standards.

"We've had a plan in place for three years with our special education reading, so we're very encouraged we got off (the list) for our special education reading," Thompson said. "We're encouraged with our plan in moving ahead with our special education math."

Thompson said she knew coming into this year's test the school was in danger of making the list for the performance of free and reduced-price lunch students. But schools did not get last year's AYP results until September, so the school was not able to put any new programs in place. Thompson said a new class starting this fall is designed to decrease achievement gaps.

"We're really doing a lot of staff development and our teachers are working really, really hard," Thompson said. "It is what it is, but I know that we're going in the right direction. We have a lot of people and a lot of communities and teams working together.

"I don't look it as punitive as I did in the past. I'm looking at it as we're doing things right. We're getting better at looking at our data."

At RHS, principal John Wollersheim said test scores overall were encouraging.

"We're not necessarily disappointed in our results," Wollersheim said. "We didn't make AYP because of the way the system is set up for these tests.... That doesn't mean that our test scores across the board weren't good."

460 RHS students took the MCA math test. Of those, 63 were special education students.

Wollersheim said the school is looking for ways to teach math outside of regular math classes and is making sure the school's curriculum lines up with the state's academic standards.

"We obviously have an incentive to get our scores up," Wollersheim said. "This has our school's attention. We worked hard on it in the past. We'll continue to work hard on it."