Strategies aim to raise achievement in District 196

State funds to target raising graduation rates, standardized test scores

State Achievement and Integration funds will be used in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District in an effort to raise graduation rates and improve standardized reading test scores among minority students and those from lower income households.

As part of the district’s 2017-2020 AI plan, which the School Board approved Feb. 6, the goal is to have 90 percent minority students and those who receive free and reduced-priced (FRP) lunches graduate by 2020, reduce achievement gap test measures and improve reading test scores at the district’s two Racially Identifiable Schools.

To reach these goals, six intervention strategies are slated to be implemented districtwide, while two additional strategies will be used at Echo Park and Oak Ridge elementary schools, which are Racially Identifiable since they have 20 percent more minority students than others in the district.

Since the district is Racially Identifiable (also having 20 percent more minority students than some neighboring districts), funds will go toward districtwide strategies to:

– Modify curriculum to make it more culturally inclusive,

– Increase the number of FRP and diverse students in AVID, honors and Advanced Placement courses,

– Engage parents to assist in their child’s progress,

– Increase the participation of minorities and FRP students in leadership and cocurricular activities with an academic focus,

– Increase the percentage of minority staff in the district to 7 percent in 2018 and 9 percent in 2020, and

– Offer a 2017 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Summer Camp in conjunction with South Washington County Schools.

In 2015, the graduation rate for District 196 FRP students was 76.2 percent while Hispanic, African-American and American Indian students’ graduation rates were 80.3, 81.2 and 85.7, respectively.

In 2015, the gap in Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Reading scores between FRP and non-FRP students was 33 percent. The gap between minority and white students was 18 percent. The district aims to reduce those gaps to 14 and 10 percent by 2020, respectively.

In the new plan, the district also aims to increase Reading test scores at Oak Ridge and Echo Park among FRP and minority students from their current percentages in the 40s to 69 and 72 percent, respectively, by 2020.

Additional intervention at the schools will focus on curriculum development and an increase in family engagement.

At the start of the 2016-17 academic year, Oak Ridge and Echo Park elementary schools were converted to magnets. Oak Ridge’s curriculum focuses on Leadership, Environmental, and Health Sciences, while Echo Park emphasizes Leadership, Engineering, and Technology.

District 196 has reduced minority populations at RI schools in the past by using magnet programs.

The district is slated to receive $4,516,807 in AI funds in fiscal year 2017-18.

Of those funds, 30.5 percent will go toward transportation, 22.5 percent on magnet program implementation, 18.75 percent on multicultural family advocates, 12.23 on AVID instruction, 9.56 percent for enrichment programs, 3.78 on administration and 2.98 percent to create Equity Partners — a 0.2 full-time equivalent stipend for a current staff member in each of the schools to assist in the implementation of the AI strategies.

The Minnesota Department of Education says the purpose of the AI program is to pursue racial and economic integration, increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities, and reduce academic disparities based on students’ diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.

Currently, 134 school districts receive funding from this program.

Contact Tad Johnson at [email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.