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More area schools make the grade in latest report

BEMIDJI — TrekNorth High School, for the third year in a row, has been recognized as a Reward School by the Minnesota Department of Education.

“It’s nice to have our work validated by the state,” said Dan McKeon, executive director of TrekNorth.

The MDE released Tuesday its annual report on school accountability. Statewide, the 2013 Multiple Measurement Ratings were reported to show “substantial progress” as 27 schools previously identified as priority and focus schools — those schools with lower scores — no longer will be required to carry those designations because of increased student achievement.

Locally, two regional high schools — Cass Lake-Bena and Red Lake — now will shed their “priority” designation because of continued improvement. The principals of those schools could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Statewide, Title 1 schools — those that receive federal funding based on their level of poverty — receive two scores: The multiple measurement rating (MMR) takes into account student proficiency, student growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates. The focus rating considers focused proficiency and achievement gap reduction.

Priority schools are schools whose MMR scores are in the bottom 5 percent; focus schools have focus ratings in the lower 10 percent.

However, new priority and focus schools were not named this year as the MDE designates such schools on a three-year basis, allowing time for strategies to be implemented. New lists will be compiled for these categories in fall 2014.

Conversely, the top 40 percent of schools also are recognized for their achievement.

Schools with MMR scores in the top 15 percent are named Reward Schools. Locally, TrekNorth High School was the only school designated as such this year.

“A buzz phrase in education right now is the achievement gap and that’s one of the components of the MMR (score),” McKeon said. “It’s nice for us to be able to say, to have evidence that it is something we are closing, that our deliberate attention to that is paying off.”

Several area schools, though, are eligible to apply for a “celebration school” designation, having achieved MMR scores between the 60th and 85th percentile.

Regional Celebration Eligible elementary schools include Solway, Schoolcraft, Blackduck and Magelssen in Fosston.