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Bemidji schools' MCA results see increase in math and reading proficiency, decline in science

District Curriculum Director Colleen Cardenuto was the point person for part of Monday’s Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education meeting where she presented the district’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results from the 2021-2022 school year.

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BEMIDJI — District Curriculum Director Colleen Cardenuto was the point person for part of Monday’s Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education meeting where she presented the district’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results from the 2021-2022 school year.

Cardenuto noted that last school year started off with 4,747 students. A total of 21.2% of the student body participated in special education, 34.8% were students in the free and reduced lunch program and 1.6% of students were homeless.

Regarding math assessment results, the school district performed above the state with a 46.8% proficiency rate compared to the state’s 45.2% overall proficiency. The district trended upwards from 2020-2021, which was a 42.2% proficiency. In 2019, 51.6% was the district average.

The state average for special education students was 20.5% while district numbers were slightly below at 19.7% in math. However, free and reduced lunch students were 25.5% proficient compared to a state average of 23%.

Cardenuto also reported statistics based on ethnicity including Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, African American and students who are of two or more races. Each ethnic group performed above their respective state averages in math.

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“Those are identified subgroups that the state identifies and has (the district) report on and work on in our school improvement plans,” Cardenuto said during the meeting.

The district performed slightly below the state in reading with the district at 50.4% proficiency and the state at 51.6%. However, there was overall growth since the 2020-2021 school year when the district was 49.8% proficient. In 2019, the district reported 55.4%.

Special education was at 21%, below the state average of 22.5%. Free and reduced lunch students were 31.9% proficient compared to a 31.3% state average.

Each identified racial group performed above state averages in reading, as well.

Juxtaposing the overall growth in reading proficiency with the state average, Cardenuto referenced potential plans to update core curriculum materials in order to keep up with state standards.

Science assessment results saw a decline from the 2020-2021 school year’s 47.1% proficiency rate to the 2021-2022 school year’s 40.7% — this is below the state average of 41.3%. The district performed at 47.5% in 2019.

“The positive about science is that we have a brand new curriculum this school year, and so those will help to meet those state standards because it’s going to be a much more rigorous program,” Cardenuto added.

Special education students, at 24.6%, ranked above the state average of 23.6%. Free and reduced lunch students, at 22.3%, also performed better than the 21.9% state average.

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Cardenuto also shared that the district’s average composite ACT score for this past year was 22.4, an increase from a 22 score in 2020-2021. 2019-2020 saw an average ACT score of 23.5 in the district.

Other business

The board passed a resolution establishing PMA Financial Network as a designated depository of district funds, effectively adding the organization to the district’s official list of depositories.

“(This will) enable the district to hold excess funds and make legally approved short-term investments through PMA Financial,” District Business Director Krisi Fenner said during the meeting.

Kim Goodwin was also recognized as the elementary and alternative programs principal at Solway Elementary, the Alternative Education Center, Lumberjack High School and the Oshki Manidoo Center having assumed her role on Aug. 16.

Goodwin completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, her Master of Arts in Special Education at Bemidji State and education administration requirements at St. Cloud State University.

The full meeting can be viewed on the Bemidji Area Schools YouTube channel.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, in the district board room.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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