MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- More than 400 Minnesota elementary schools were expected to learn on Friday that they will likely be tagged as needing improvement under a new federal law, the state Education Department said.
State officials will release details of a computer simulation showing that 426 of Minnesota's 1,007 elementary schools need to improve under the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The law requires schools to succeed with students from all income levels and racial groups.
Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke said the information will be used during training sessions for school district personnel who will be implementing the federal law.
The data are preliminary. The first real list based on the most recent test results will be released July 31. But the latest analysis will help schools get a jump on improving, Yecke said.
The findings, based on 2001-02 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results for third- and fifth-grade reading and math tests, show:
--Ninety percent of elementary schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul need improvement.
--Forty-seven percent of suburban elementary schools and 47 percent of large rural- area schools also are expected to fall short. Just 10 percent of small rural schools need improvement.
Most Minnesota schools need to improve the progress of special-education, poor and minority students.
Fifty-five percent of schools' special-education student scores need improvement, 64 percent of schools' low-income students' scores need improvement and more than 25 percent of schools need improvement based on the scores of black students.
Fewer than 2 percent of the schools were identified as needing improvement based on white students' scores alone.
Nearly half the schools identified as needing improvement fell short in just one or two categories. That has led some Minnesota educators to question the validity of a law that would label a school as a failure even if the majority of its students are succeeding.
Yecke, however, lauded the act's potential to identify real and specific problems -- not just on average, but for specific groups of students. She said that to make the law work for Minnesota the state Department of Children, Families and Learning will be taking three steps:
--On June 9, department officials will begin holding meetings to help teachers and administrators become familiar with new state academic standards in language arts and math -- as well as in-depth workshops on how the act will work here.
--State officials will implement online training to assist schools in identifying weaknesses and putting together a team to manage an improvement plan.
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