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Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education: District approves goals for 2009-10

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News Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education listed improving schools' graduation rate as one of its top priorities.

The board took action and approved its 2009-10 aims and goals at its regular meeting Monday night.

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The District reported a 2008-09 graduation rate of 90.7 percent for all of its schools and a graduation rate of 95.5 percent at Bemidji High School.

"Our graduation rate is high and it is commendable, but we need to continue to make progress," said Superintendent Jim Hess.

In order to calculate graduation rate percentages, the District uses the Minnesota Department of Education's Adequate Yearly Progress model, which counts all students in the District who earn a high school diploma.

The National Governor's Council recommends school districts use the Department of Education's Discipline Incident Report, which only counts students who enter high school as freshmen and achieve degrees in four years. Under this model, any interruptions (other than recorded school transfers) that postpone a student graduating in four years would count as a drop. It also takes longer for the District to receive information back.

"Because we are already measured on AYP and we have students active in alternative programs in Bemidji, it made sense for us to use this model," said Kathy Palm, Bemidji School District director of curriculum and administrative services. "The AYP rate takes under consideration the effort students are taking towards graduation, even if it's not in four years."

The school board voted to continue to follow the three aims currently in place: achieving highest levels of student success, ensuring a safe and welcoming environment, and effective and efficient operations.

The District set goals to increase its testing proficiency in reading and math in the "all students" group and the American Indian subgroup.

The District also set measures to reduce the incidences of assaults and fights by 5 percent as reported by school principals on the Skyward Student Management Data System for 2009-10. The District reported 21 incidents for grades K-5; 45 incidents in grades 6-8; and 18 incidents in grades 9-12 in 2008-09.

Additionally, the District set goals to conduct a careful analysis of its schools' schedule to determine the most efficient use of district resources.

"We want to make sure we are focusing on student achievement," said Hess. "We will conduct a study group that will look at our schedule and will report back to us in spring for the 2010-11 school year."

Hess said the District was in the process of forming the study group, which would likely visit other schools to compare different schedules.

"We need to push ourselves," said Hess. "Having programs like the ninth-grade transition program lets kids know this is their school. We want to continue to gear students towards success."

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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