St. Peter Public Schools received lower performance ratings this year, according to data released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Education, but school leaders say that the scores don't necessarily mean the district has fallen behind.
Superintendent Jeff Olson said while some of the schools' ratings have dropped, its scores last year were some of the highest in the state, making them more difficult to sustain and leaving the school with smaller gaps to work toward closing.
And after a first look at the schools' new ratings, Olson said he thinks the district is still in good shape and is still making adequate yearly progress.
"I’m really confident we’re doing a better job than we’ve ever done," Olson said. "And I’m sure we'll continue to do better."
According to the state's 2013 accountability results, St. Peter's Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) have dropped at both North Intermediate and the Middle School. The High School's rating increased by about 1 percentage point.
Its Focus Ratings (FR), which concentrate on the performance of minority, low-income and special-needs students in each school, have dropped across the board.
MMR is a rating given to Minnesota Schools. It measures student proficiency, which is based on standardized test scores in reading and math and also takes into account graduation rates and performance growth in students. It considers how well a school is closing the achievement gap between middle-class whites and minority, low-income and special-needs students.
In Minnesota, the MMR replaces the old measurement system used to determine whether or not schools are meeting federal No Child Left Behind standards.
The FR measures progress in the same areas, but focuses more specifically on students receiving special services like English language learning, special education and free- or reduced-price lunches
It also measures how much a school has reduced its achievement gap between those and other students.
A school’s score is the percentage of total possible points that it earned in a multitude of assessed areas.
In St. Peter, North Intermediate's MMR dropped 11.62 percentage points and the middle school's 23.85. The high school's MMR went up by 0.99 of a percentage point.
North Intermediate's FR dropped by 13.88 percentage points, the middle school's by 27.89 and the high school's by 12.63.
Title 1 schools, like North Intermediate, can also qualify for one of five designations: Reward Schools, Celebration Eligible Schools, Focus Schools, Continuous Improvement Schools and Priority Schools.
Reward schools are the highest performing 15 percent of Title I schools in the state. Celebration Eligible Schools are within the top 25 percent. Focus schools are the 10 percent of Title I schools making the biggest contribution to the state’s achievement gap. Priority schools are the 5 percent most-persistently low-performing Title I schools in the state.
Continuous Improvement Schools are with in the bottom 25 percent, but do not qualify as Priority or Focus Schools.
This year, North Intermediate was downgraded from a Reward School to a Celebration Eligible School.
Nearby, Cleveland's Elementary School lost its status as a Celebration Eligible School.
It did not receive a new designation and MDE will not announce New Priority and Focus schools until the fall of 2014.
Ratings at both Cleveland's Elementary and High School dropped significantly this year and both schools failed to make adequate yearly progress, a measurement defined by the No Child Left Behind Act.
Last year the elementary school's MMR was 63.42 percent. This year it is 22.47 percent. It's FR dropped from by 85.05 percentage points.
The High School's MMR dropped from 77.76 percent to 11.49 percent. Data from MDE did not include the school's 2012 FR.
Cleveland Superintendent Brian Phillips did not immediately return calls for comment.
Reach reporter Jessica Bies at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @sphjessicabies