Fifth- and third-graders in the Brainerd School District improved their reading, mathematics and writing skills and surpassed the state average in their Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test results.
"Overall we were very pleased with the results," said Gary Phillips, assistant superintendent. "We were up in all areas."
And Brainerd was not the only school that did well.
Test scores statewide reported increases in student's test scores for the fourth year in a row. The tests given in late February-March measure whether elementary students demonstrate a grasp of the subjects below, at, above or scored beyond what is expected of their grade level.
In Brainerd, 61 percent of the third-graders scored above or beyond their grade level in reading and 70 percent scored above or beyond in mathematics. The state average is 49 percent read above their grade level and 53 percent excelled in mathematics.
Brainerd had 77 percent of its fifth-graders score above average in reading, 69 percent in mathematics and 61 percent in writing. Last year's fifth-graders had 65 percent in reading, 61 percent in mathematics and 48 percent in writing score above average.
Statewide, 63 percent of the fifth-graders excelled in reading, 50 percent in mathematics and 55 percent in reading. Last year's state result average was 52 percent in reading, 45 percent in mathematics and 42 percent in writing.
Phillips said that since students began taking the tests four years ago that the district's goal was to have 50 percent of the students score above average.
"We are now at around 60-70 percent and we've doubled the amount of kids which is impressive," said Phillips. "We now look for a 5 percent improvement each year."
Phillips said the tests measure the district's curriculum and how it utilizes programs.
Not all the Brainerd lakes area school districts beat the state average scores. Ken Scarbrough, superintendent at Staples-Motley School District, said even though the results were less than the state average that he still was pleased with the students' test results.
"The scores showed improvement from last year's tests and I am very happy with that," he said.
There were 50 percent of the third-graders at the district who scored in the top two levels in reading or about 1 percent less than the state average and 64 percent or 9 percent less than the state average in mathematics on the state test.
Fifth-graders had 56 percent in reading or 8 percent less than the state average score; 30 percent in mathematics or 20 percent less than the state average; and 45 percent or 10 percent less than the state average in writing.
Scarbrough said it is hard to make a generalization about the test results because one student could have been one question off from a higher level. However, he said staff is staying active in expanding its reading, mathematics and writing programs to help students develop their skills.
Students in the Pillager School District scored below the state average in some areas. Their results were 38 percent of the third-graders scored in the top two levels in reading or about 9 percent less than the state average and 53 percent or 3 percent more than the state average in mathematics on the state test.
Fifth-graders had 50 percent in reading or 13 percent less than the state average; 31 percent in mathematics or 19 percent less than the state average; and 42 percent or 10 percent less than the state average in writing.
Superintendent Phil Johnson said the students did improve their test results from last year and the district's goal is to score above the state's average level.
"The teachers have worked very hard in the past few years to get above the state level," said Johnson. "We will not be satisfied where we are at this time and we plan to continue to improve to get above the state level."
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