Bemidji schools’ MCA results see increase in math and reading proficiency, decline in science – Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Colleen Cardenuto, district curriculum director, was the liaison for part of the Bemidji Area Schools Education Committee meeting Monday, where she presented the results of the 2021-2022 school year comprehensive assessment of the Minnesota district.

Cardenuto noted that the final school year began with 4,747 students. Overall, 21.2% of the student body participated in special education, 34.8% were students in the free and discounted lunch program, and 1.6% of the students were homeless.

In terms of math assessment scores, the school district performed above the state with a proficiency rate of 46.8% compared to the state’s overall proficiency rate of 45.2%. The district trended upward from 2020 to 2021, representing 42.2% competency. In 2019, the district average was 51.6%.

The state average for special education students was 20.5%, while the county average was slightly lower at 19.7% in math. However, students with free and discounted lunches were 25.5% competent, compared to a state average of 23%.

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Cardenuto also reported statistics based on ethnicity, including Asian, Hispanic, Native American, African American, and students who belong to two or more races. Each ethnic group scored above its national average in mathematics.

“These are identified subgroups that the state will identify and have (the district) report and work on in our school improvement plans,” Cardenuto said during the meeting.

The district scored slightly below the state on reading, with the district dominating 50.4% and the state 51.6%. However, there has been an overall increase since the 2020-2021 school year, when the district was 49.8% competent. In 2019, the district reported 55.4%.

At 21%, special education was below the national average of 22.5%. Students with free and discounted lunches were 31.9% competent, compared to a state average of 31.3%.

Each identified racial group also scored above the state average in reading.

Cardenuto contrasted the overall growth in reading literacy with the state average and pointed to potential plans to update core curriculum materials to keep up with state standards.

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The results of the science assessment showed a decline from the 47.1% proficiency rate for the 2020-2021 school year to 40.7% for the 2021-2022 school year – below the national average of 41.3%. The district achieved 47.5% performance in 2019.

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

At 24.6%, special needs students were above the state average of 23.6%. Students with free and discounted lunches also scored 22.3%, better than the national average of 21.9%.

Cardenuto also shared that the district’s average composite ACT score for the past year was 22.4, up from 22 points in 2020-2021. In 2019-2020, the district achieved an average ACT score of 23.5.

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The board passed a resolution that established the PMA Financial Network as the designated custodian of district funds, effectively adding the organization to the district’s official list of custodians.

“(This will) allow 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 director of elementary and alternative programs at Solway Elementary, Alternative Education Center, Lumberjack High School and Oshki Manidoo Center after assuming her role on August 16.

Goodwin received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, her Master of Arts in special education from Bemidji State, and educational administration requirements from 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 Monday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the District Board Room.

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