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Bemidji secondary schools aim for better attendance: School Board reviews school-specific goals

BEMIDJI--Bemidji Area Schools leaders reviewed a slate of school-specific goals Monday. Among them are sought-for attendance rate and test score bumps at Bemidji High School and Bemidji Middle School. High school staff hope to get the school's at...

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BEMIDJI-Bemidji Area Schools leaders reviewed a slate of school-specific goals Monday. Among them are sought-for attendance rate and test score bumps at Bemidji High School and Bemidji Middle School. High school staff hope to get the school's attendance rate to 95 percent by the end of the 2016-17 school year-up from 89.45 percent-and middle school staff hope to raise their rate from 94.34 to 95 percent, mirroring a district-wide goal set earlier in the school year. The high school also lists among its goals a 90 percent graduation rate. Documents supplied at the School Board's meeting Monday indicate the high school intends to meet that attendance goal with a mix of remedies for student behavior and apparent incentives to stay in school. Each high school department has set an attendance goal, and that teachers there will be trained to provide "test prep remediation" and supplementary instruction; behavior interventions to improve school culture; and de-escalation strategies. High school administrators, Northwest Technical College staff, and "community manufacturing companies" will expand their course offerings and employment opportunities to help students receive trade certifications and post-secondary credits, and Certified Nursing Assistants classes at those schools will be added.
At the middle school, staff intend to implement a "SPARK program" and meet with students every week to monitor their progress. The Spark program's website says it encourages adults to volunteer and mentor "underserved" youth in grades 7-9 to succeed in high school and beyond. "Attendance will improve; resulting in more days attended yielding better results in school work," the middle school's attendance goal reads. Both schools also set for themselves a slew of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores they hope to improve. The state deems students to be "proficient" or not after they take tests in reading, science, and math each spring, and school leaders hope for several tested groups of students to do better this year than last. Bemidji High School leaders, for instance, hope to have 20 percent of 11th grade special education math scores be deemed proficient-a 2.3 percent jump from the 2015-16 school year-and about four percent more eleventh graders be proficient in the "Geometry and Measurement strand" of the math test this spring. Each school in the district-including outlined a series of 3-5 goals and the methods by which they intend to achieve those goals. The goals themselves were drafted after an August "data retreat." Each school's progress toward their goals will be recorded at the end of the school year and included in a report to the state.BEMIDJI-Bemidji Area Schools leaders reviewed a slate of school-specific goals Monday.Among them are sought-for attendance rate and test score bumps at Bemidji High School and Bemidji Middle School.High school staff hope to get the school's attendance rate to 95 percent by the end of the 2016-17 school year-up from 89.45 percent-and middle school staff hope to raise their rate from 94.34 to 95 percent, mirroring a district-wide goal set earlier in the school year. The high school also lists among its goals a 90 percent graduation rate.Documents supplied at the School Board's meeting Monday indicate the high school intends to meet that attendance goal with a mix of remedies for student behavior and apparent incentives to stay in school.Each high school department has set an attendance goal, and that teachers there will be trained to provide "test prep remediation" and supplementary instruction; behavior interventions to improve school culture; and de-escalation strategies. High school administrators, Northwest Technical College staff, and "community manufacturing companies" will expand their course offerings and employment opportunities to help students receive trade certifications and post-secondary credits, and Certified Nursing Assistants classes at those schools will be added.
At the middle school, staff intend to implement a "SPARK program" and meet with students every week to monitor their progress. The Spark program's website says it encourages adults to volunteer and mentor "underserved" youth in grades 7-9 to succeed in high school and beyond."Attendance will improve; resulting in more days attended yielding better results in school work," the middle school's attendance goal reads.Both schools also set for themselves a slew of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores they hope to improve. The state deems students to be "proficient" or not after they take tests in reading, science, and math each spring, and school leaders hope for several tested groups of students to do better this year than last. Bemidji High School leaders, for instance, hope to have 20 percent of 11th grade special education math scores be deemed proficient-a 2.3 percent jump from the 2015-16 school year-and about four percent more eleventh graders be proficient in the "Geometry and Measurement strand" of the math test this spring.Each school in the district-including outlined a series of 3-5 goals and the methods by which they intend to achieve those goals.The goals themselves were drafted after an August "data retreat." Each school's progress toward their goals will be recorded at the end of the school year and included in a report to the state.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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