Graduation rates up in 2007
Minneapolis Public Schools reported a significant increase in the number of high school seniors who earned a diploma last year.
The district’s graduation rate increased to 67.2 percent in 2007, up from 60.7 percent in 2006. Six of the seven high schools posted higher graduation rates, and more seniors from each demographic group counted by the state graduated high school.
The graduation rate was one hopeful sign in the year-end statistics reported by the district, which saw more schools fall short last year of adequate yearly progress goals set by the state under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Chief Academic Officer Bernadeia Johnson expressed optimism that district graduation rates are going up even at a time when graduation requirements are increasingly demanding.
Johnson pointed to the district’s Check & Connect program as one factor in the higher graduation rates.
The program works by monitoring students’ attendance and academic performance to identify those who may be at risk of dropping out. Individualized intervention plans are used to keep those students engaged with their schools and on-track for graduation.
Edison High School in North Minneapolis reported the biggest jump in graduation rates, with an increase of about 15.7 percent in 2007 to 76.6 percent of all students.
Washburn High School posted a greater than 3 percent gain in graduation rates, the biggest increase in Southwest. About 89.9 percent of Washburn seniors graduated in 2007.
At Southwest High School, 87.7 percent of seniors graduated in 2007, an increase of less than 2 percent over 2006.
About 94.4 percent of South High School students graduated in 2007, a slight gain over the previous year.
Southwest schools ‘beat the odds’
District leaders recognized schools that "beat the odds" in 2007 by posting higher-than-expected scores on state tests, including a number of Southwest schools, at the Board of Education meeting Sept. 11.
Dave Heistad, the district’s director of research, evaluation and assessment, said the beat-the-odds schools showed the greatest growth among continuously enrolled students. Student growth over time is a better measure of school quality than the snapshot provided by the results from a single standardized test, Heistad said.
"It’s a good measure of long-term progress for the schools," he said.
Growth was measured by comparing students’ scores on the most recent round of state math and reading tests to their scores from similar tests taken several years earlier.
Four of the 10 schools recognized for the greatest growth in student math proficiency between the end of 5th grade and the end of 8th grade were from Southwest, including Barton Open School, Jefferson Community School, Anthony Middle School and Lake Harriet Community School’s Upper Campus.
Reading growth was measured by comparing students’ scores as 3rd-graders to assessments made when they were kindergarteners. Bryn Mawr Community School, Kenny Community School and Ramsey International Fine Arts Center all placed in the top 10.
Heistad said 8th-grade math proficiency and 3rd-grade reading proficiency are two key indicators of student performance.
OUTspoken training coming to Minneapolis
LYNNHURST — A national training campaign for families headed by gay and lesbian parents comes to Burroughs Community School on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The OUTspoken training program, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Family Pride, trains lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and their community supporters to tell the stories of their families and advocate for equality.
OUTspoken Families include more than 1,000 people in 44 states and outside the U.S. who have gone through the training, Family Pride reported. Those families make a commitment to speak about family equality in their community at least eight times a year.
The training runs 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at Burroughs, 1601 W. 50th St. Register for the event at www.familypride.org.
Board endorses Minneapolis Youth Congress
The Minneapolis School Board passed a resolution to support the launch of the Minneapolis Youth Congress at its meeting Sept. 11.
The congress will be a representative body made up of youth in grades 8 through 12. Its 55 members will work to influence policy decisions at the city and county level that impact children and teenagers.
The congress is sponsored by the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board.
Board members will select the first members of the congress, which will convene six times a year and form committees that meet twice a month.
More information and applications to the congress are available on the board’s website, www.ycb.org.
Reach Dylan Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 436-4391.