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Big scores from small school: Blackduck high school ranks 33 out of 339

Earlier this summer, the U.S. News and World Report released their rankings for the top high schools in the state of Minnesota. Three hundred and thirty-nine high schools out of 775 made the cut and Blackduck Secondary grabbed hold of No. 33.

The rankings, also compiled with help by the American Institutes for Research, are based on state proficiency standards in math and reading and overall college readiness of high school students. In addition, schools must hold a gold or silver rank as determined by U.S. News.

And, despite enrolling only 289 students in grades 7-12 — No. 30 Bemidji enrolls over 1,360 in only four grade levels — Blackduck garnered a silver rating.

Recently, Independent School District 32 has shown great success in its 2013 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores, which were released Tuesday, Aug. 27 in the form of percentages passed.

Those scores appeared to follow a state trend: A slight decline in the number of students who met or exceeded the expectations of the exams.

But according to the results, Blackduck leads the charge in several grades in terms of highest percentages of passing students.

The spring of 2013 was a year of change for the MCA tests, which were given new standards and rules, making aspects of the exam more challenging than in the past.

“Minnesota adopted more rigorous standards to help ensure students are career and college ready upon high school graduation,” the Minnesota Department of Education stated in a news release.

In grades 3-8 and 10, students were tested on reading in the MCA-III and the scores of Blackduck’s 4th, 5th and 6th graders soared above those in other area schools with 65 to 70 percent passing across the board.

The MCA-III math exam results followed a similar trend for those Blackduck students who again topped area schools in passing percentages by up to 21 percent in some cases.

Only 7th and 8th graders fell slightly behind with 45 and 56 percent passing, respectively.

At the high school level, juniors were required to take the MCA-II math test which 45 percent of Blackduck 11th graders passed, just 1.4 percent shy of Bemidji students and 1.2 percent shy of TrekNorth students.

The highest percentage of passing students in the math MCA-II was at Kelliher High School where 50 percent of juniors passed the exam.

According to the Department of Education news release, this was the first year that the reading test aligned with career and college-ready standards.

Also, the state saw over 95 percent of students taking the exam online, which is said to give teachers and students more timely feedback.

“It’s important to look at today’s tests results for what they are: A snapshot in time that tells us how students are doing in mastering our state standards.” Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota’s education commissioner said, in the above-mentioned news release. “What is needed now is to focus our efforts and stop moving the goalposts so teachers and students have a consistent target to hit.”