Nearly Half of Minnesota Schools Don't Make the Grade

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, October 3, 2011

The state Education Department announced Friday that 1,056 out of 2,255 schools are not making "adequate yearly progress" under the law, a slight increase from last year's 1,048.

The report comes as Minnesota plans its escape from key provisions of the increasingly controversial federal law, including a 2014 deadline by which all students are supposed to be proficient in reading and math.

"We really wish we were not in the position of having to label our schools this year," said state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

Within a few months, state officials hope they will have a federal waiver. But for now, they said they must release the annual list and impose consequences that go with it.

The list released Friday includes 34 Minnesota schools that are in the law's most serious restructuring phrase, up from 26 last year.

More than half of those -- 19 -- are in the Minneapolis district. Six are in the St. Paul district.

Another 45 schools statewide must prepare to restructure, compared with 19 last year. And 289 schools face less serious consequences.

"It's surprising that there aren't more schools in trouble, based on how easy it is to get that label," said Dave Heistad, testing director for the Minneapolis schools. "The system isn't fair."

In the Minneapolis schools, no middle or high school made adequate progress. Only two of 25 did in St. Paul. Students in both districts made gains on state reading tests and made progress in closing the achievement gap between white and minority students this year, but not enough to catch up with the rising federal standards.

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