GILBERT — The Eveleth-Gilbert School District held its annually required public meeting for the World’s Best Workforce performance and goal presentation Tuesday afternoon.

In 2013, a state bill was passed, commonly known as the Striving for the World’s Best Workforce bill, “to ensure every school district in the state is making strides to increase student performance,” states the Minnesota Department of Education handout at the meeting. This is done by requiring that each district develops a plan to address five goals.

Each district develops plans to address these five goals:

• “All children are ready to start kindergarten.

• All third-graders can read at grade level.

• All achievement gaps between students are closed.

• All students are ready for career and/or postsecondary education.

• All students graduate from high school.”

This goal-based program was implemented to make the Minnesota workforce competitive while ensuring their children are career and college ready.

“We don’t want this report to just sit on a shelf,” said Angie Williams, principal of the Eveleth-Gilbert High School, on Tuesday afternoon. Williams has already met with staff and faculty to address last year’s goals and the implementation of this year’s.

Todd Griepentrog, principal of Nelle Sheen Elementary, has also been meeting with staff and faculty for feedback and added, “We do this to increase student achievement.”

Together, Williams and Griepentrog presented the latest results and discussed the ongoing work and updated goals for the district.

Elisa Boe attended the meeting. She is the HOPE and REACH teacher at the high school. Through HOPE, Boe provides extra academic support and instruction. Through the REACH program, social and emotional skills are taught.

“I teach kids who struggle and part of my job is to advocate for them,” Boe said. “Being more aware helps with that. That is why I’m here.”

The Virginia School District has also recently completed its report, which was presented to the school board on Jan. 13.

Below you will find results and future goals for both districts.

School Readiness

In the area of school readiness, the Eveleth-Gilbert district had a goal for 65 percent of students to show growth by one level in literacy and math. For 2020, this goal has been changed to 65 percent of students showing an average growth of 0.8 level in those areas.

The Virginia School District has a goal to increase the percent of 4 year olds enrolled in Pre-K. This year, the rate of attendance increased to 96 percent. Their goal moving forward is to have that percentage of attendance maintain or increase.

3rd Grade Literacy

For third grade literacy, the 2019 goal for Eveleth-Gilbert of 63 percent proficiency was met. It increased from 58.3 percent in 2018. The goal is to increase further to 65 percent of third graders reading at grade level in 2020.

For third grade literacy, the 2019 goal for Virginia of 60 percent proficiency was met and exceeded to 64.8 percent. It increased from 58.3 percent in 2018. The goal is to increase that to 67 percent of 3rd graders reading at grade level in 2020.

Achievement Gap

The achievement gap identified in the Eveleth-Gilbert School District was identified between non-special education and special education students as well as between those eligible and non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals in the areas of both reading and math.

In math, there was no change in the achievement gap between non-special education and special education students as it stayed 29.4 percent. The 2020 goal is to increase percent proficient in both groups and have the achievement gap decrease to 27 percent.

In reading, there was a positive change in the achievement gap between non-special education and special education students, 30.6 percent, but both groups did not increase in proficiency. The non-special education students decreased in proficiency from 68.7 to 64.5 percent. The huge increase in the proficiency of special education students, from 24.3 to 33.9 percent, accounts for the overall reduction in the achievement gap. The 2020 goal is to increase percent proficient in both groups and have the achievement gap decrease to 29 percent.

In math, there was a positive change in the achievement gap between those who are eligible and non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals, 17.5 percent, but both groups did not increase in proficiency. The students who are non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals decreased in proficiency from 59 to 56.6 percent. The increase in the proficiency of students who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals, from 38.5 to 39.1 percent, accounts for the overall reduction in the achievement gap. The 2020 goal is to decrease the gap from 17.5 to 15 percent by an increase percent proficient in both groups.

In reading, there was a positive change in the achievement gap between those who are eligible and non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals, 8.2 percent, but both groups did not increase in proficiency. The students who are non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals decreased in proficiency from 69.1 to 64.2 percent. The increase in the proficiency of students who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals, from 51.7 to 56 percent, accounts for the overall reduction in the achievement gap. The 2020 goal is to decrease the gap from 8.2 to 6 percent by an increase percent proficient in both groups.

Williams explained that the achievement gap is a tricky area.

“You need to balance and make sure you don’t pile all the resources on to one group and forget the other group,” she said. So even if one group is doing better one year, the schools should still continue to provide support to those students.

The Virginia School District focused on race in its achievement gaps. There were 315 white students, nine Native American students, four black students and 28 students who identified as two or more races. Because of the small numbers, results will not be published in this article to maintain student anonymity.

Career and College Readiness

In the Eveleth-Gilbert School District, all ninth grade students are enrolled in a semester long post-secondary planning course. In this course they take personal interest inventories, research careers, learn about finances and plan for their future. This course will continue to be taught to continue to fulfill this goal.

The Virginia School District had the goal that 100 percent of high school students would have access to and accomplish all of the educational elements required in the personal learning plan. The percentage who have accomplished this is actually 89.5 percent.

Classes used to explain and enroll students in this program are: Intro to Physics in ninth grade, World History in 10th grade, U.S. History in 11th grade and Economics in 12th grade.

The goal for 2020 is 100 percent of high school students would have access to and accomplish all of the educational elements required in the personal learning plan.

All Students Graduate

The goal to increase the Eveleth-Gilbert four-year graduation rate from 91.2 to 92 percent will be studied following this school year. The district has an overall goal that graduation rate will not fall below 90 percent.

This four-year graduation rates are higher than the state average of 82.7 percent.

“We should be above the state average,” said Williams explaining that all her students are native English speakers and a language barrier is not present. This is often a cause of high school dropouts. “We don’t have English Language Learners (also known as English as a Second Language) classes in our district. We don’t have that population.”

The goal in the Virginia School District to maintain a 100 percent four-year graduation rate for students who are non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals. Students eligible for free and reduced priced meals had the goal to increase graduation rate from 88.2 to 100 percent but it only reached 88.9 percent.

The goal moving forward is to maintain the 100 percent four-year graduation rate for students who are non-eligible for free and reduced priced meals was reached and raise the rate to 90 percent for students eligible for free and reduced priced meals.

One District

Griepentrog is appreciative of the guidance the World’s Best Workforce plan provides. “It is important for the district to have a plan,” he said following the meeting.

Griepentrog explained that if the consolidation of the Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia school districts happens as planned on July 1, 2020, reports will be submitted as one. “These plans are done at the district level and at that point we would be one district,” he said.

With the consolidation, Griepentrog is excited for the academies as student will have even more access to career and college readiness. “It will provide rich experiences for all kids.”

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