ST. CLOUD -- The Minnesota Department of Education has a new assessment system to grade how schools and students are doing, and three District 742 schools are considered in need of "comprehensive support."

The new North Star system is a replacement for the old way of deciding performance based solely on test scores. This system is the Minnesota Department of Education's response to the federal "Every Student Succeeds Act" passed in 2014.

Sylvia Huff is 742's Director of Research Evaluation and Assessment. She says the state looks at five indicators to decide if a school needs help.

"As the state reviews the data and indicators of the North Star system, they're comparing the school's performance to various thresholds. If the school falls below a threshold, then the school will receive extra support."

North Star's five indicators are:

  • Academic achievement -- the number of students at the meets or exceeds standards in testing for math and reading.
  • Progress toward English language proficiency -- average progress made by English learners toward individual goals on state tests.
  • Academic progress -- growth by students year to year on state tests.
  • Graduation rates -- percent of students graduating in four and seven years.
  • Consistent attendance -- percent of students attending at least 90% of the days they're enrolled.

Lincoln, Madison and Talahi Elementary Schools were the ones the state says need comprehensive support as part of the new system.

Lori Posch is 742's Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. She says the district has some plans in place to bring the schools in line with state expectations.

"We have a few consultants who we've been working with through our title programs, we've been working closely with the schools to fine tune our co-teaching efforts. So we have a lot of things in place."

Otherwise, the district is working with the MDE's regional centers of excellence, who will assist them in bringing the schools up to state standards.

Posch says since the new data just came out, the district still needs to work out exactly what else will be needed to bring the schools in line.

District 742 did score higher than the state average in both reading and math progress.