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Rosemount students fare well on MCA exam

District 196 students performed better than their peers statewide and showed improvement in nearly every category on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests given in April to students statewide.

The Minnesota Department of Education released results from that test earlier this week. Local students at all grade levels met or exceeded state standards at a better rate than students statewide.

Students in third- through eighth grades take both math and reading tests. High school sophomores take a reading test and juniors take a math test.

The test is one part of a formula used to determine whether Minnesota schools are making adequate progress toward national No Child Left Behind goals. All Minnesota students will have to meet those standards by 2014.

District officials are still early in their evaluation of the results, but elementary education director Julie Olson said she is so far happy with what she sees.

"I think we're continuing to feel positive about how our scores compare," Olson said. "I think we saw overwhelmingly good things within the same school and within the district."

District 196 students improved last year's results nearly across the board. There were increases in reading and math at the third- fourth- and seventh-grade levels, increases in reading at the 10th-grade level and increases in math among juniors. Sixth graders improved their results on the reading test but declined on the math test and fifth- and eighth-grade students declined on both the reading and the math tests.

Those comparisons are not perfect. This year's fifth graders are an entirely different group than took the test last year. But Olson said the district examines several years worth of results to look for patterns. Schools will work with district assessment experts to identify areas where students struggle and find ways to help them improve.

"We look at this year's scores, of course, and we try to say, how do schools look as compared to the district as a whole and as compared to the state. I think it's also looking at what's the trend over the last three or four years at each school.

"When we look at the general trend, there are some areas where we go, 'What happened there?'" Olson said.

Sometimes the reasons for students' struggles are easy to pinpoint. At one district school, a fifth grade teacher died just a month before the MCA exam.

"As they start to break it down by teacher, they can tell that there was an influence," Olson said. "That is not surprising."

Closer to home, Rosemount schools fared well for the most part on this year's MCA. Students at most local schools performed better than the district as a whole, and Parkview Elementary School was the only Rosemount school to have a class score that lagged behind the state average. 74.3 percent of PVES fourth graders met or exceeded standards on the MCA reading test, slightly behind the 75 percent statewide that did that well.

The district will not know until later this year whether its schools will be on the state's AYP list this year. A number of factors go into that decision, including the performance of a number of sub-groups on the MCA exam. The Minnesota Department of Education plans to release AYP results in early August.