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Math scores up slightly in District 833 state tests

In general, School District 833 is strong in math with a 1- percent increase in state test scores, according to Rick Spicuzza, district director of teaching and learning.

"Third, fourth and fifth grade students did really well in math," he said.

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test results were released by the Minnesota Department of Education June 30. Reading and math tests were given in April in grades three through eight. Additionally, 10th-graders took reading tests and 11th-graders took math tests.

"Secondary is an area of concern," Spicuzza said in an interview last week, with 31 percent of Park High School 11th-graders passing the math test. Though that is three points up from last year, it's short of the 38 percent passing rate that state officials hoped for, Spicuzza said.

The actual state average this year was 34 percent proficiency.

Woodbury High School scored 50 percent on this year's test.

"It's important for high schools to be above the state average," Spicuzza said. "We're not overly celebrating Park's math scores."

This year's low scores did not vary much from low scores in 2007, leaving some educators wondering if the test is the problem in that it covers material 11th-graders were not taught.

Spicuzza said low scores should lead the state to question "the reasonableness of the standards" and "whether the standards are appropriate."

There is a bright spot in 10th grade reading scores, according to state officials, with an 11-percent increase in average test scores across the state.

Park's reading score is up eight points from 64 percent last year and Woodbury's percentage increased by six points to 85 percent.

Test scores across the state reflect the reality that where there are students from families at the lower end of the economic ladder, test scores are lower than their counterparts at the upper end.

That trend is reflected in district schools with lower scores at Newport, Pine Hill and Armstrong elementary schools than at Red Rock Elementary School in Woodbury and Cottage Grove Elementary School.

Spicuzza said that tendency can be turned around and Crestview Elementary School test scores are an example of what can happen when a school decides to "make a turnaround."

There was a 21-percent increase in fourth-grade reading scores, 13-percent increase in fifth-grade reading and 19-point increase in sixth-grade math.

Though it was a different age level of children taking tests that were revised this year, scores can be an indication of improvement or decline, according to Spicuzza.

The state will release individual scores to school districts at the end of July so they can be given to parents.

How schools rate under the federal No Child Left Behind law will be released in August, Spicuzza said, when test scores are expected to be discussed by the school board.

Because the tests are getting harder each year, more schools will probably be on the list of schools "not making adequate yearly progress," he said.

By 2014, under No Child Left Behind, 100 percent of students must be proficient on tests.