MARSHALL – The COVID-19 pandemic and the one-year shift to distance and hybrid learning has certainly had an impact on Marshall’s students. But even though state test scores were down at Marshall’s public schools this spring, there were still good signs, said Beth Ritter, director of teaching and learning.
Math scores for students on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) were above the state average in several years. Seventh grade students at MPS also scored above the state average in reading for their grade level.
“Our teachers have done a phenomenal job” Ritter said. “It affects our students when there is no full face-to-face learning. “
“The previous year, due to COVID, we were unable to carry out any spring tests”, she said.
The number of students mastering math and reading on the MCA declined across Minnesota during the 2020-21 school year. Statewide, reading skills were 52.5%, up from 59.2% in 2018-19. Fluency in math was 44.2% statewide, up from 55% in 2018-19.
In MPS, 48.3% of students in the district were proficient in reading, up from 59% in 2018-19, and 45.6% of students were proficient in math, up from 59.5% in 2018-19.
However, Marshall’s students in grades 5, 7, 8, and 11 all performed above the state average in math for their grade levels. Marshall’s seventh-grade students also scored 3.7 percent above the state average in reading for their class, Ritter said.
The percentages of Marshall’s students achieving expected growth in their reading and math skills during the year were also down from the 2018-19 school year, Ritter said. Once again, the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic has affected students’ learning progress, she said.
Ritter also shared other data from MPS, including the number of English learners in each Marshall school building. English learners made up over 20% of the student body at Park Side Elementary, but that percentage gradually declined as you moved from Park Side to West Side Elementary, Marshall Middle School, and Marshall High School, a- she declared.
“It really says that the interventions we have up to college are working”, school board member Bill Swope said.
The number of MPS students who left the English language learning program in the 2020-21 school year was “Lower than what we normally see”, Ritter said. A total of 28 students across the district met the criteria to leave the program, most of them leaving primary or middle school.
However, Ritter said it was worth celebrating that the students were making enough progress to leave the program, even despite the disruptions from COVID. Five high school English learners left the program last year, which Ritter said was exciting, as the numbers are typically lower than those at high school. Students who learn English in high school are often newcomers to the United States, with less English practice.
In 2020, MPS had a four-year graduation rate of 87.6%, compared to the state average of 83.8%, Ritter said.
The data presented to the school board on Tuesday will help MPS set goals for student improvement.
“That gives us an idea of, where can we go from here? “ Ritter said.