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District striving toward 80/50 proficiency goals
Monroe school board given mid-year assessment on goals, student progress
School Board 2

MONROE — Joe Monroe, Director of Pupil Services, and Todd Paradis, Director of Curriculum, updated the School District of Monroe Board of Education at their meeting on Feb. 26 of where the district is at in its 80/50 proficiency goals. This is the second year in which the district is striving to get all students to 80% proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. The 50 stands for 50%, which is the proficiency goal the district desires to be met by students in its “aggregated target group”, which includes students that are economically disadvantaged, English Language Learners (ELL), non-white or special education.

“We just gave our second benchmark assessment with Mastery Connect — which is an assessment we use three times a year — where we just take a check on how our kids are performing on ELA and math standards for second grade through 11th,” Paradis said. “Very comparable, very comparable. We’ll take one more check before the end of the year to see where we’re at in terms of reaching our 80/50 goal. 

“When we set that goal, we knew it was a stretch goal to get that many kids to proficiency on all of our targets. Certainly, it’s a challenge.”

When district staff and teachers met for in-service on Feb. 23, one of the items of discussion was determining areas that should be given more focus in order to improve quicker. There are only about 12 weeks left in the school year, Paradis said, which means time is limited.

In years past, different buildings, departments or teachers have had their own goals for their collective students, which was not entirely aligned for all students across the district, whereas this approach is all-encompassing.

“Prior to this, our school would set smart goals on targets of things that they were shooting for,” Monroe said. “Now that we have the 80/50 goal across the district, it’s well known that that’s the goal. It’s a stretch goal, and we’re pushing ourselves to get there, but it’s something that people are shooting for and there’s continued problem solving work and discussion around the practices that are being employed to get the results that we want.”

In the first year attempting to reach the 80/50 benchmark goal — the 2022-23 school year — the district fell just short of its benchmark goals, reaching 56% for ELA and 70% for math. 

“Now that we are in Year 2, it’s nice having some data sets to look at trends and themes across grades, across levels … where you can start making some kind of connection to areas of need” or to see areas that are performing well, Paradis said. That means they can further assess and analyze what is working or not working. 

This year, ELA has already equaled that overall number, and math is trending in the direction of reaching the end-of-the-year proficiency goal. Both have a district-wide mid-year proficiency mark of 56.4%.

“The fact that we are at 56% for all kids in ELA and math, and then we have some good numbers for our target groups shows that there is some good work that is going on — but we have some additional work to get done this year,” Monroe said. “It feels good that we’re at 56 now, but we also recognize that it could slip if we’re not careful and not paying attention to the work that’s being done. We have to be careful not to assume a straight trend-line because sometimes we see that the data will dip a little bit in the spring … and we have to consider what practices are maybe influencing that a little bit. We have to be very aware of where we are at currently in making sure that we’re using all of our resources to help kids continue to grow.”

Paradis and Monroe shared a chart with the board for each one of the three target groups, plus the district, for both ELA and math proficiency. The 29% of students in ELA and 27.2% in math are at the “developing” level, leaving 14.6% of ELA and 16.4% of math in the beginning stages. 

For the target groups, the Free Reduced Lunch (FRL) demographic, also known as the economically disadvantaged demographic, is almost at the 50% goal in both ELA (48.4%) and math (48.1%), while the ELL are not far behind with proficiency levels of 43.7% ELA and 43.5% math. In the special education demographic, 35.5% of students are proficient in ELA and 38.8% in math.

“We have some interventions and supports in place that previously didn’t exist, so we’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to leverage some of those resources to get that developing group to where they need to be,” Monroe said.

The district also had students in grades 3-12 take a survey about their learning experiences and school perceptions as a whole, and it found some interesting responses. The survey was done completely anonymously, however, so it was harder to assess demographic variables. Monroe said the survey looks at teacher-student relationships, the student’s valuing of school, the student’s sense of belonging, and general school climate. 

The survey found that elementary students gave overall much higher remarks than the middle and high school.

“I think we anticipated that students would report a higher favorability rating on some of these topics. … I think it’s led to some really good conversations,” Monroe said. “What we’re trying to do is better understand how kids are feeling, what they’re thinking and then maybe what we need to do in order to address these things.”

Monroe said that, based on “a lot of national research,” student perception matters to their overall education. The survey used was developed in 2014 by researchers at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Panorama Education. 

“This stuff matters. … There’s a pretty strong connection between how our kids feel about their school experience” and the school report card, Monroe said. “It would be easy for people to say ‘Ok, that’s student perception, but we’ve got curriculum and content we’ve got to get through.’ But what we’re saying is, we’ve got all the technical curriculum stuff — and that’s really important work — but if we don’t stop to consider how students feel as a part of their school experience, we’re likely not going to be as successful as we want to be.

“It needs to be true, genuine, authentic, relational experiences within our content curriculum, and if we do that, good things are going to happen.”

Those factors played a key role in how Monroe and Paradis planned for tweaks in the system over the final 12 weeks of the school year. 

“We looked at our Panorama survey results, we’ve looked at our academic achievement data tirelessly, we’ve conducted a lot of classroom observations this year, we’ve consulted with and gotten feedback from our staff and administration,” and worked with a pair of educators from a highly successful school in Illinois, Monroe said. 

He said that from the technical aspect, for the last six years the district “has been busting our tails off” to improve. 

“A lot of great work has been achieved. But if we don’t have the foundation of a school climate and connectedness; and kids feeling like school isn’t important to them; and getting kids to the point where their engaged — we’re probably not going to get the results that we want,” Monroe said. “What we’ve identified is some instructional priorities that we feel is setting us up for some success going forward.”

First bid packages sent out, road negotiations continue

MONROE — The first bid packages for the new high school construction project were sent out on Feb. 28, according to District Superintendent Rodney Figueroa. 

“There’s many things happening, and happening at a rapid pace,” Figueroa said. 

At the Feb. 26 Board of Education meeting, Figueroa said that the build team of CG Schmidt, PRA and Fehr Graham have been working diligently, and that the site work bid package would be submitted by the end of the month — or, more specifically, Wednesday, Feb. 28.

A list of potential bidders has been submitted by CG Schmidt, though any contractor wanting more information and is interested should contact 

The schematic design is also now complete, and there will be an earthwork and site utilities bid package meeting for contractors coming soon as well. Once the property closes and site work begins, the board will begin discussions on project enhancements and naming rights. There will also be a meeting about “legacy” parts of the current campus that some in the community would like represented in the new school, like the entrance arch.

Figueroa said the board is still negotiating with the B&S owners, which now own the property directly north of the campus, about creating a primary entrance connecting the school to either 8 ½ Street, 6 ½ Street, or both. Currently, the plans are for a primary entrance to connect the school from County KK, a nearly-mile long road through wetlands at a sizable cost. If an agreement can be made for an entrance via the much shorter, earthwork-friendly north side property, the County KK road would not be built.

The portion of the meeting open to the public ended after just 55 minutes, with the board moving into closed session for further discussions and negotiations regarding the primary road through the B&S property. 

Questions about the project can be emailed to

The board will only meet one time in March (11th) due to the timing of spring break.