Milaca schools improve MCA scores

A concentrated effort to raise test scores in math and reading at all grade levels in the Milaca School District appears to be on the right track, according to Superintendent Jerry Hansen.

Hansen talked in an interview last Thursday after an Aug. 1 StarTribune story about improved scores around the state in math at the elementary and middle school levels. The Minnesota Department of Education released the test results Aug. 1.

Milaca elementary students showed a 72.8 proficiency in math, compared to the state average of 65.4.

The gain in proficiency at the elementary level was 10 percent last year, 9 percent over the last two years.

The percentage of high school students showing proficiency in math was 42.3, compared to the state average of 54.4. There was a gain of 1 percent in proficiency over the previous year.

“We started last November, K through 12, designing programs to intervene early,” said Hansen, “and we’re on track for continuing that the upcoming school year.”

For example, in grades 4 through 6, besides regular classes in math and reading, there will be another period per day this fall of math and reading for all students.

“For the kids that are struggling we will have different programs,” he said. “You might have a half dozen kids in a group of those performing lower and maybe a group of 15 to 20 for higher-performing kids.”

It will be different at the high school level (grades 7-12 in Milaca). Kids will be pulled out for what Hansen called “a second scoop” of math or reading for kids “on the fence” for attaining proficiency and for those who are struggling.

Some attribute higher scores throughout the state to the fact that some kids took the tests as many as three times.

Students at Milaca Elementary took the test one, two or three times, while everyone at the high school took the test twice.

“What we found,” Hansen said, “is that some kids came in highly motivated and passed the proficiency test the first time. At the high school the first time was used more as a test to see where the students were.”

For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 9 print edition of the Times.