Stillwater area schools out perform on MCA test

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The Stillwater Area School District's efforts to improve its students understanding of math has paid off.

District 834 outperformed the state average on both the math and reading portions of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II test.

District 834 includes a portion of Woodbury and all of Afton.

MCA II tests are given in April to students in grades three to eight in reading and math, in 10th-grade in reading and 11th-grade in math.

The MCA II measures how proficient students are in math, reading and science.

District 834 improved its MCA II math scores by 10 percent bringing the district's average to 74.2 percent, compared with 66 percent statewide.

The district's MCA II reading scores remained constant at 82.5 percent compared to 72.4 percent statewide.

"To see our gains was wonderful," said Chris Lennox, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. "We were very pleased."

>Upping the math curriculum

About three years ago District 834 officials began discussing possible ways to improve its math scores.

Eventually, officials decided to implement new math curriculum by incorporating the use of two new math texts -- "Math Expressions" and "Holt."

Lennox said they decided to incorporate the new texts into the curriculum because they were the materials that most directly aligned with the Minnesota standards. The curriculum is very standards-based.

"We were looking for consistency in teaching and learning across the district," he said. "The commitment to standards-based curriculum made a significant difference."

In addition to being standards-based, the new materials also include increased rigor compared to previous materials.

Lennox said he attributes the school's success on the MCA II test not to the materials, but to the teachers and students who brought them into play.

"I'm going to attribute incredible teachers, standards-based curriculum and great students and families," he said.

"We have outstanding teachers who are capable of producing these results -- we are very pleased with what they were able to do with their students."