Sheridan Hills Named Priority School: Principal's Letter to Parents

The Minnesota Department of Education released rating data Tuesday morning, putting the Richfield school as a major area of focus for the district, state.

The following letter was sent to parents with children at following :

Dear Parent and/or Guardian,

The Minnesota Department of Education released results of their new accountability system on May 22, 2012. All schools are rated but only schools receiving Title One funds are labeled in this system. The system is based on state math and reading tests. Sheridan Hills was identified as a Priority school.  The new system attempts to answer the following questions:

  • Did the school meet its proficiency target?
  • Did the school meet its growth target?
  • Did the school make progress closing achievement gaps?
  • Did the school increase its graduation rate?

Priority Schools are defined as low-achieving based on a combination of achievement gap reduction, proficiency and growth measures.  Achievement gap measures compare our students to their statewide counterpart as follows:

  • School Racial/Ethnic groups are compared to the statewide White student group
  • School English Learner student group is compared to the statewide native English speakers
  • School Special Education student group is compared to the statewide Non-Special Education students
  • School Free and Reduced Lunch (F/R) group is compared to the statewide Non F/R Lunch students

It is difficult to imagine that our little school has been named a Priority school.  Those of you who have children here and visit our school may wonder how Sheridan Hills, named a MN School of Excellence in 2010, made that list.  The number of fifth graders proficient on the MCA for Science doubled last year.  Teachers work to ensure that learning is rigorous, engaging and connected, often integrating fine arts with science and social studies.    Parent satisfaction is high, “Our kids have always had the best memories and exceptional teachers.  From principals to custodial workers I have seen nothing but top notch!” 

Our teachers are filmed as examples of highly effective and innovative practice by national and international professional organizations.  National experts helping our teachers further develop their expertise consistently report that Sheridan’s are some of the most talented, committed, and well trained teachers that they have worked with.  

Sheridan Hills Elementary students:

  • Met their growth goal in reading
  • All students groups met their reading proficiency goal with the exception of special education
  • There is an insufficient number of students in the Asian sub group for state calculations but that group made their proficiency target for math
  • The Black and White student groups met their math proficiency target

Sheridan Hills is a Priority school because:

  • The Hispanic, English Learner, Special Education and  F/R did not meet their math proficiency target
  • Students did not meet their math growth target
  • The Hispanic, Black, EL, Special Education and F/R student groups did not make sufficient math gains compared to their statewide counterparts
  • Only the English Learner student group made sufficient reading gains compared to their statewide counterpart (Non-EL)

One reason that MDE has changed its accountability system is to target support to schools struggling to accelerate learning for students in seven identified sub groups. What will change as a result of school identification?  Consultants from MDE’s Centers for Excellence will be available during our school improvement planning retreats and to support implementation of our improvement initiatives.

We will remain fully engaged in efforts to advance learning for all of our students, while attending to gaps among groups of students. Talent and dedication run deep in Sheridan staff. Many of our students work hard to overcome obstacles to learning and we are proud of the progress that they make. Clearly, we need to move them farther and faster.  We have many strengths and welcome this challenge to accelerate our work.

It is comforting to note that when asked, Can a Priority or Focus school be an excellent school?  Sam Kramer, MDE Division of Student Support Federal Programs responded, “Absolutely.” Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.  Sheridan Hills is an excellent school and, also, a priority school with work to do! 

As always, I welcome you to visit the school, volunteer and share ideas, complements and concerns.


Jodi Markworth, Principal

Sheridan Hills Elementary School

6400 Sheridan Avenue South

Richfield, MN 55423


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