By MaryHelen Swanson
Students at North Branch schools generally perform above state average on required tests.
Last week, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Alternative Learning Lori Zimmerman gave the school board a report on MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) test scores from 2011-12.
Zimmerman began by noting that the children in the North Branch school system are tested from the early months of preschool to the very last day of school as a senior.
That’s a lot of testing.
And in the North Branch schools, recently received scores show that students are improving on mandated tests, especially in areas of reading and writing.
As Superintendent Deb Henton noted in her School News column last week, writing proficiency is over 90 percent and reading is over 80 percent.
But math, much like other school districts, is another story.
While students at the elementary school improved math scores by 7 percent, and middle school students improved by over 10 percent, scores at the high school fell.
However, in fairness, it must be noted that the test taken last year was more difficult than the previous math test, and it was anticipated, across the state, that scores would reflect the change.
With the test scores in hand, North Branch will move forward with a continued emphasis and focus on math beginning, Zimmerman noted, with early childhood, through upper elementary, to middle and high school.
Regarding the test results, Superintendent Deb Henton said the district has a lot to be proud of, but she is not satisfied with all of the results, especially in math.
To address this, Dr. Henton told the school board and small audience last week, things will be done differently at the high school this year.
She said there will be a focus on personalizing education to the greatest degree possible.
That will in some cases, put students in different math classes than they were expecting, math classes that will help them in specific areas toward greater proficiency. This is something that families should be aware of as the students return to school in a couple of weeks.
In other business last week, the school board:
• Accepted the retirement of high school principal Brad Windschill, who has been on a 3-year leave of absence.
• Accepted the retirement of Roberta Tauer, bus driver, hired Jamie Sobolik as Business Education teacher at the high school, James Pope as band director at the high school, Carlene Gubash as Spanish teacher at the high school and Karee Malterud as technology secretary.
•Approved tenure for high school principal Coleman McDonough.