It is always fun and exciting to see students back at school in the fall. Fall is also a time to share with families test results of how students did on statewide assessments called the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA’s). MCA’s are a measure that determines how well students understand grade level standards. If a student knows all of the grade level standards in reading or math, they are given a score with the label “meets” or “exceeds.” A students who is still progressing towards learning the standards are labeled with “partially meets” or “does not meet.”
Hinckley-FInlayson students have seen a gradual increase in reading achievement according to the MCA’s. District-wide, 37% of students met grade level standards in 2015, 41% in 2016, and 45.5% in 2017. In fact, in the past year there has been substantial growth in reading achievement in certain grade levels including a 10% increase in grades 5, 6 and 10. In addition to the gradual increase, 50% of HF students are making their growth goals as determined by the state which has been on a steady increase since 2015 when it was at 37%. The district is focusing on programming and curriculum choices that will result in students retaining information long-term, not just preparing them for a test. New programming has been implemented in grades that are seeing terrific results and will be implemented in more grade levels this school year. Even though the MCA results are not where we would like them to be in Math, there is still gradual improvement. New curriculum was implemented in 2017, and even though we expected to see a dip in results as typical in new implementations, there was actually a 10% increase in students meeting their growth goal.
Statewide MCA’s aren’t the only way we measure student achievement. In fact, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Each year in the fall, all students are given a short assessment in reading and math to inform educators what content students know. If a student’s assessment has concerns, they are monitored every 1-2 weeks to see if they are making progress. If they are, we continue on their educational plan. If no growth or little growth is made, we analyze how the student is being taught, materials used, curriculum, strategies, etc. The goal is to identify what teaching practices and content best meet the needs of the student in order for them to learn. All students take a screening test called FAST at the elementary or MAP at the high school. The goal of these tests are to measure growth and inform the teachers on if materials or teaching strategies need to be adapted to meet student needs.
In addition to monitoring student achievement on tests like the MCA’s, Hinckley-Finlayson School District is committed to providing students with a well-rounded educational experience that includes programs like garden club, robotics, programming the video scoreboard, to just name a few. They get opportunities in agricultural classes, college in the schools classes, and problem-solving experiences in STEM. As we continue to improve test scores in reading and math, we will also continue to work on providing students quality, high interest opportunities that make school interesting and prepare them for their future after high school.
Individual student reports of the MCA tests will be shared with families at conferences in October and November. Your child’s teacher will be there to explain your child’s score and be able to help you determine what that means. If you have any questions about testing or programming, please call the school to speak with your child’s teacher or Amy Grice.