Sunrise school is named ‘Celebration Eligible’

The Minnesota Department of Education recently released 2012 Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) for schools with early analysis showing the state gaining traction in efforts to close achievement gaps.
And in North Branch, that’s a cause for a “celebration.”
Last month Commissioner Cassellius said, “The benefits of the new Multiple Measurement Rating system is the more precise information it gives us and local schools about how all students are doing and where improvement efforts should be focused.”
Attendees at last week’s school board meeting learned that Sunrise Elementary achieved “celebration eligible” status from the state because proficiency index scores were above target in every category, including all seven subgroups.
While today’s education lingo is pretty foreign to the average parent, it does make school personnel very happy.
At Sunrise, the MMR showed strong scores for students in both reading and math.
The combination of proficiency points, growth points and gap reduction points, gives Sunrise a total of 50.27 points or an MMR rating of 67.02 percent.
And that is reason to celebrate.

Where did the MMR  come from?
Last  February, Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver request was approved by the U.S. Department of Education. As a result of this waiver approval, Minnesota is now transitioning to a new system of school recognition, accountability and support.
The heart of this new system is a new way of measuring schools called the Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR), and a new set of school accountability designations.
“Today’s data shows that we’re starting to bend the curve in the right direction,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius when the MMR ratings were released. “Minnesota’s achievement gaps are still unacceptably large, but I believe the new accountability measures we’ve put in place, along with our new focus on closing gaps and improving outcomes for every student, will continue to accelerate the gains we see today.”
Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Alternative Learning Programs Lori Zimmerman noted that at Sunrise, a focus for the 2012-13 school year would be reducing the achievement gap in the subgroup of free and reduced price lunch students.
Superintendent Dr. Deb Henton said the district is “pretty proud of our results,” especially after Zimmerman completed her report that showed the middle school and high school had also received favorable MMR ratings.
The district does intend to celebrate this good achievement at the elementary school.

The start of another year
The audience at the board meeting also learned about the beginning of the school year from the principals.
Jason Hartmann at Sunrise said he could “see the hopes in the eyes of the children as they enter the building.”
A brilliant sunrise graphic tells the story of the goals at the elementary school. As they are “Making a difference … one student at a time” the elementary will focus on reading and math this year. In reading the goal is to increase the number of students who meet their growth goal by 2 percent.
In math, the goal is to increase the number of students who meet or exceed Tier 1 targets by 2 percent.
A key point, he noted, is that staff at Sunrise will be committed to asking for help and providing assistance to each other.
“We are committed to quality communication and a positive relationship for all.
Average class sizes at the beginning of the year were as follows: grade K – 26, grade 1 – 26, grade 2 – 29.5, grade 3 – 32, and grade 4 – 31.
A more accurate class size for all district schools is determined in early October.
At the middle school, Principal Todd Tetzlaff was pleased to noted that there were 90 percent of the families at the open house before school started.
He also noted that it was a challenging start as students and staff dealt with the unexpected death of a well-loved teacher on the first day of school.
Tetzlaff also pointed to the school’s mission, “Learning is our number one priority and all of us will learn to our fullest potential.”
And the vision, he pointed out is, “North Branch Area Middle School will be a beacon for learning; a positive and progressive place where everyone belongs.”
Average class sizes at the beginning of the year were: grade 5 – 29.6 (8 sections), grade 6 – 31.1 (8 sections), grade 7 – 31.5 (8 sections), and grade 8 – 32.8 (8 sections).
“We’re unbreakable!” said high school principal Coleman McDonough, and using the example of a rowing team noted the motto for the year is “Rowing as One.”
Guiding students to achieve their full potential and to become productive, successful citizens is the mission of the high school.
McDonough is committed to developing in the students and staff a sense of Viking Pride which is shared with the community.
The “e” in p-r-i-d-e means he expects consistent rigor and excellence from himself, his colleagues and from the students.
Average class size: Social – 32.4, Math – 28.8, English – 30.1, Science – 28.6, and Electives – 26.
The high school has five goals to achieve by June 30, 2013. They can be viewed at the district website under the school board meeting report.
North Branch Area Public Schools also offers these alternative programs: Independent Study, 9 courses offered; Distance Learning, and STEP  – Special Education Transition Program, for ages 18-21. The program is now located in the Brooker Building and is expanded to include students with behavioral disabilities.

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