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Schools make headway as 'best workforce'

The World's Best Workforce Report for the 2016-17 school year was presented to the Osakis School Board at its Monday, Nov. 13 regular meeting by Principals Shad Schmidt and Tim Roggenbuck.

The report is a state-mandated program that requires school districts to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan to support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned with creating the world's best workforce.

The annual report must be sent to the Minnesota Commissioner of Education by Dec. 15.

The District Advisory Committee overseeing the WBWF progress must reflect the diversity of the district. Members include Supt. Randal Bergquist, the two principals, Becky Hensley, School Board chair; six teachers and staff, a parent/paraprofessional and community member, and a high school student.

Goals set out in the program were assessed, and results reported.

The goal of getting all students ready for school including kindergarten registration and "round-up" was met.

Goals including third grade achieving grade-level literacy, career- and college-ready by graduation, and all students graduate were also met.

A goal not met was to close the achievement gaps among groups including Special Education, and Free Reduced, based on MCA testing after grade 3 and FAST testing in grades K-6.

Needs identified in the report were based on data gathered in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), and/or local data including local assessments, attendance, graduation, mobility, remedial course-taking rates, and child poverty.

The report explains math facts is a primary focus, along with reading. For the 2017 year, the Osakis math score dropped from 73.1 to 70.2. It was pointed out that in 2015 the state changed the math testing criteria, which has a bearing on the scores. Reading increased from 59.8 to 64.4.

"MCAs have been both up and down in the five-year trend," the report says. "However, scores are above the state average for math and reading. 2016 to 2017 math went down by about 3 percent, and reading increased by 5 percent."

The report outlines support offered to teachers and principals from the School District, the district focus on technology for the 2016-17 school year, and other benchmarks.

Principal Schmidt reported that he has analyzed the test scores, and each teacher has been informed of the weaknesses and of the test "strands" that need improvement, so they can practice in areas where the students are falling short.