School is pleased with 10th grade test scores

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/19/99.

Ninety-three percent of the 10th graders at Paynesville Area High school passed the Minnesota Basic Standards test of written composition.

"We were very pleased with the test results," John Janotta, high school principal, said.

Of the 107 Paynesville 10th graders taking the test, 93 percent passed with a score of three or higher. Each composition was given a rating of 0 to 4. Three was considered passing.

A total of 63,112 studens took the test statewide. Cindy Lavarato, assistant education commissioner, said 85 percent for 10th graders is a pretty high passing rate.

This was the first year the written composition test was required as part of the graduation standards.

"I was elated to see our score," Danith Clausen, Paynesville curriculum coor-dinator, said. "We only have seven students that did not pass the test out of the entire class....I'm impressed with the scores because they are great." "As time goes on, we will know what to expect and the scores might get better," Janotta said.

Clausen said the students took the test seriously and the district owes a lot to the ninth and 10th grade language arts teachers who helped prepare the students for the test. They are Deb Ficek, Michelle Anderson, Amy Flanders, and Dick Butler. "The ninth grade teachers stressed the importance of a five- paragraph structure for essays which they use for the tests," Clausen added.

Unlike the math and reading tests, the district received the written com-positions back. "I feel this will make it easier for the teachers to identify what areas we need to improve upon," Clausen said. "The teachers can look at the mechanics and structure of the essays. It will enable them to help those who did not pass, to pass the test next time it is given."

Clausen added that by receiving the tests back, the district can also look at the different essays and see how the judges scored the compositions."

Clausen has received word from Kathy Wagner, head of state testing, that the tests will contain different components next year. "They will be looking at the basic skills of students as well as a broader range of upper skill levels." The students were asked to write about someone who made a significant impact on their lives.

Written composition is the composite act of formulating and preparing a message to be communicated to an adult reader in a written format.

The scoring criteria judges followed for the compositions covered five characteristics: clarity of central idea, coherent focus, organization, detailed support or elaboration of ideas, and language usage.

A score of four points means the composition had a more than adequate response; three points, an adequate response; the passing score; two points, a less than adequate response; one point, a very inadequate response; not able to score, responses cannot be evaluated.

Letters will be mailed by the end of the week to parents of 10th graders explaining the scores.

Area Schools Tests Scores
Rocori94 percent
Paynesville93 percent
Sauk Centre93 percent
BBE91 percent
Albany90 percent
EV-W90 percent
Melrose89 percent
NL-S88 percent
Litchfield84 percent
ACGC77 percent

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