bryan skavnak and studentsAt Fernbrook Elementary, school staff are hoping that four simple words will provide year-long inspiration for students: be the nice kid.

With assistance from Bryan Skavnak, author of the popular “Be the Nice Kid” quote, all students at Fernbrook wrapped up a whirlwind first week of school on Sept. 6 by sharing ideas about acts of kindness they can lead for others and learning the importance of, simply, being nice.

After hearing Skavnak speak, each student then contributed to a mural on the fence overlooking the Fernbrook playground. The design features the school’s eagle mascot with “Be the Nice Kid” boldly displayed in bright colors. Fernbrook has designated “be the nice kid” as a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) theme this school year.

fernbrook mural and buddy benchThe recent addition of a Buddy Bench to the Fernbrook playground, purchased by the school’s PTO, will also help reiterate the themes of caring, kindness and respect among scholars. The Buddy Bench works like this: if a student is new to the school or cannot find anyone to play with, he or she can sit on the bench. When other students see someone sitting on the bench, they’re encouraged to invite their classmate to play—fostering greater inclusivity throughout the Fernbrook community.  

“One of the best ways to be the nice kid is to include other people,” Skavnak told students. “Find the positives in others. Be kind.”

TOP PHOTO: Bryan Skavnak, author of the "Be the Nice Kid" quote, speaks to second graders at Fernbrook Elementary on Sept. 6. 

BOTTOM PHOTO: Students contributed to a mural on the fence by the playground. The Fernbrook PTO also recently purchased a Buddy Bench for the school. 

ISD 279 LogoOsseo Area Schools student performance on state tests showed slight declines along with some areas of success, according to data provided by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests are one of many ways the state and local districts measure student achievement. The MCA results released on August 29 reflect proficiency only and are a “point-in-time” measure of student progress.

The MCA data provide insights into the work schools are doing to prepare the World’s Best Workforce, which requires that all students are ready for kindergarten, every third-grader can read at grade level, every student graduates from high school ready for college and career, and the achievement gap is closed on all state-mandated measures. The state’s North Star Accountability System looks at more than test data — extending beyond student proficiency on a test at a single point in time — in order to offer the public a richer understanding of what is happening in schools. Those data points include achievement and progress on state reading and math tests over time, progress toward English language proficiency, graduation rates and consistent attendance. Staff will present a more comprehensive picture of student progress in Osseo Area Schools at the October 8 school board work session.

Over the past six years, district results have reflected a statewide trend of declining proficiency rates in math and science, and stable proficiency rates in reading. Proficiency rates for Osseo Area Schools students in all three subjects lag state averages.

While the overall 2019 results were lower than desired, there are areas where students are seeing success.

In math:

  • 3rd graders saw a proficiency rate increase of 3 percentage points over the previous year.
  • Over the past six years, American Indian/Alaskan and White students have performed at higher levels than state averages.
  • We are making significant progress in closing the achievement gap in grade 3, and have nearly closed the gap for students of two or more races.
  • The new elementary math curriculum, which was in Year One implementation during 2018-2019, holds promise for helping students achieve at higher levels in math. We are piloting two new math curriculum resources in grades 6-12 and will monitor their impact on our math results at the secondary level.

In reading:

  • The district is making progress in closing the achievement gap in grades 3 and 4, and have nearly closed the gap for students of two or more races.
  • Over the past six years, American Indian/Alaskan students and White students have performed at higher levels than state averages.

In science:

  • The district has nearly closed the science achievement gap for students of two or more races.
  • Students of two or more races also saw a proficiency rate increase of nearly five percentage points over the previous year.

Superintendent Cory McIntyre noted, “We are committed to getting better results for each and every student. The School Board has set a clear course for this work by identifying priorities in our strategic plan that focus on increasing student achievement.”

“While the 2019 results are not what we intended, they provide valuable information we can use to support improvements in student achievement,” he added.

Actions based on test results include:

  • At every school, teachers are already digging into these results to identify adjustments to make for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Every school will use these results to set goals in their 2019-2020 school improvement plans.
  • District teaching and learning staff will also use the 2019 results as they identify ways to further support schools.

School board members, Supt. McIntyre, and district leadership are confident in the district’s staff. District leaders will continue to provide effective instructional tools and high-quality professional development to support teachers.