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Associated Press 

Test scores flat despite early start in SW Minnesota


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Starting school two weeks before Labor Day didn't improve students' test scores in the first year as officials had hoped, but a superintendent said the results didn't shake his confidence in a three-year experiment in southwestern Minnesota.

State law prohibits starting school before Labor Day, but a consortium of 25 districts got special permission from the Minnesota Department of Education to do so in 2010. The extra teaching days in the summer were expected to help raise test scores in the spring. But the first progress report released Monday showed scores stayed flat.

"Even though we're not meeting our intermediate targets, even though we are holding steady — and we're thoughtful about those two things — we are very optimistic our hypothesis will hold true," said Bill Strom, superintendent of the Mountain Lake public schools.

Strom said an additional analysis by the Education Department showed the 25 districts also didn't outperform the state as a whole, instead the consortium schools just kept pace. Strom said there's no way to tell if the consortium schools would have fallen behind had they not added the extra teaching days.

While the test scores didn't meet the group's expectations, Strom said the districts were making good progress toward consolidating their teacher training programs and improving the collection and analysis of student data, which should help teachers tailor lessons to individual students.


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