School

Test scores important at high-scoring schools too

In Bloomington, standardized tests are used to evaluate students at all grade levels. Students take the Computerized Achievement Level Tests, or CALT tests, in elementary school, which, according to Jefferson’s Principal Steve Hill, are an accurate indicator of the strengths and weaknesses students may have when they reach high school.

Robbinsdale Cooper gives students extra math resources

At Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, math resource rooms help prepare students for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Series II test, parts of which students are now required to pass in order to graduate.

Why do I have to take all these tests!?!

In America, by law everyone is entitled to a public education. People today also believe that every child should receive the same quality of education. The problem is, they’re not.

Old school, new school

Last year, Thomas Alva Edison Senior High School in northeast Minneapolis went through a major change when every teacher in the school was fired and had to reapply. Teachers and students feared the change and it made them very angry and upset.

New teachers and tougher discipline bring a fresh start to Washburn

Washburn has undergone a series of major changes within the last year under the “Fresh Start” program. More than 60 percent of the teachers are new this year, and there’s also increased attention toward discipline, tardiness and skipping class. The changes were required after Washburn’s students failed to make adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Program for several years.

Al-Amal School

The general feeling of the school environment is simultaneously diverse in its culture and traditions, but still unified underneath Islamic principles and morals.

Test scores important at high-scoring schools too

Jefferson tries to analyze potentially at-risk students and put them on an equal playing field with everyone else. But it’s not just about test scores, as Schnitzer pointed out. “We hope that we can raise students’ test scores, but more importantly make sure they have a holistic ability to succeed in every element of high school.”

Why do I have to take all these tests!?!

In America, by law everyone is entitled to a public education. People today also believe that every child should receive the same quality of education. The problem is, they’re not.

Old school, new school

Last year, Thomas Alva Edison Senior High School in northeast Minneapolis went through a major change when every teacher in the school was fired and had to reapply. Teachers and students feared the change and it made them very angry and upset.

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New teachers and tougher discipline bring a fresh start to Washburn

The long hallways of Washburn High School in Minneapolis fill with students; some walk passively, others more swiftly. Laughter and chatter echo in the stairwells as students travel to their next class.

A loud bell interrupts the fleeting minutes of passing time. As fast as the hallways filled, they empty once again. Class begins.

The scene was different last year when too many students hung out in the halls long after the bell. Teachers frequently had to step outside to tell off students who were skipping and disrupting their classes

Indeed, Washburn has undergone a series of major changes within the last year under the “Fresh Start” program. More than 60 percent of the teachers are new this year, and more than 20 are new to Minneapolis Public Schools.

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VIDEO: Taking school seriously

Mark Oliveras started taking his classes at Humboldt Senior High School more seriously when he realized that doing well in school could save him from the difficult life he’s led so far — never being able to afford rent and moving all the time.

Woodbury High School

Next year, a new high school, East Ridge, will open in Woodbury. This school will combine students from both Woodbury and Park High Schools. Friends will be separated as some students stay in Woodbury and some move to East Ridge. Woodbury and Park are old rivals, so it will be a challenge to get along and build a united community together at East Ridge.

Robbinsdale Cooper gives students extra math resources

Only 22 percent of Robbinsdale Cooper High School’s students tested at the proficient level on the MCA II math test, and 100 percent of them must do so by 2014, only five years from now. In an effort to get students scores up, the high school has “math resource rooms” where students go to refresh what they’ve learned.

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Students fight 60-second "body shots" in bathroom to avoid getting caught

Instead of fighting in the hallways at school, students at Humboldt Junior High take their conflicts into the bathrooms and do “60-second body shots,” in which one person gets to hit the other one in the body or face for 60 seconds without the other person fighting back.

HEADS UP: Minnesota juniors must pass new MCA-II test in April to graduate

“I guessed on every single one,” said Osseo High School senior Andrew Scheffler when asked about how seriously he took the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments test last year. This is because he knew it didn’t count toward his graduation.

This year, however, the tables have turned. Starting this April, all high school juniors in Minnesota will be required to pass a new statewide math test. If they don’t, they’ll be allowed to keep trying during their senior year. But if they don’t succeed, they won’t be able to graduate.

December Your Turn runners up

December’s runner-up winners of Your Turn offered up many ideas for how to permanently close the achievement gap between white students and students of color. Their ideas range from students in the top 20 percent of the class tutoring those who need help to pairing students with a mentor to teaching students with methods that help them connect with the school work — like a math class that used the NCAA basketball tournament to teach statistics.

Your Turn December winner on how to close Minnesota's achievement gap

When the staff at ThreeSixty read Molly’s essay about Jamal, a 5-year-old boy she tutored while volunteering at Head Start’s BOOST Literacy program, it made our heads spin.

When finished reading, it felt like we had been punched in the gut. Molly tells Jamal’s heart-breaking story so well that is seems insensitive to talk about what a good writer she is. Jamal’s story is too sad. He’s 5 years old and doesn’t know his own name or how to talk, really, beyond a handful of swear words. The only picture he recognizes on the flash cards is a big, black belt, and it makes him cry. Molly’s essay cuts straight to the heart and captures one painful truth of why some children don’t do as well in school as others, and she is our December Your Turn winner. Writing stories like Jamal’s is never easy, but Molly’s essay exposes an aspect of the achievement gap that can’t be ignored.

Warning, this story contains profanity. We at ThreeSixty felt it couldn’t be removed without the truth and power of Molly’s essay being removed along with it.

The name of the little boy, along with his sister, has been changed to protect his identity.

Education teaches former child maid to speak out

Mardia Hahmed only went to school until fifth grade in Ethiopia. In order to help her family, she had to quit school and work as a maid for people she says treated her like an animal.

She was expected to do every thing in the house: housekeeping, cooking, taking care of the children, taking care of their livestock — like goats, cows, horses and sheep. She also washed clothes by hand, using water which she carried on her back a long distance from a river.

“I was working a long time without resting. I didn’t have a chance to sleep on a bed, which I always wish. They don’t let me eat my meal the same time they eat. I have to eat after they eat and I have to work the whole night unless I finish my job,” Hahmed said.

ThreeSixty fall library workshop opens doors into world of religious and immigrant teens

Every fall, ThreeSixty runs a six-week workshop at an area library to teach interested teens about journalism. This fall, an incredible group of mostly immigrant Muslim Somali and Ethiopian Minneapolis teens, as well as one Pentecostal American teen, worked hard on stories that deepen understanding of their experiences in the Twin Cities, as well as their communities here.

The reporters investigate topics like balancing religious beliefs with fitting in at school, the struggle immigrant women go through to free themselves from domestic abuse, worry about a brother who chew’s khat, a stimulant, a sister’s potentially lethal disease, Sub-Saharan African women finding new educational opportunities when many of them never enter high school in their home countries, and what it’s like to adjust to life in America as a high school freshman who doesn’t know a single word of English.

Befriending exchange students broadens horizons, world view

At Eden Prairie Senior High School, Karin Paul is known as the foreign exchange student who stood up in front of the entire student body at a pep fest and asked if anyone wanted to go see the band Coldplay with her. She’s experienced many American traditions for the first time this year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and skiing on Minnesota’s “hills.”

Karin Ingrid Anne Maria Paul, 18, moved this summer from a small town in Sweden that was established nearly a millennium ago to Eden Prairie, a 1880s-farming town that is now a Minneapolis suburb.

Befriending the exchange students at your school can show you a perspective of America only a foreign student can show you, and can teach you about other world cultures.

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