Rosemount school officials are using a first round of results to get comfortable with a new way of assessing school performance - and to get ready to explain to parents what a new set of numbers means.

The Minnesota Department of Education released results from its new Multiple Measurements Rating last week. The ratings, based on schools' performance on the statewide Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, will replace the national adequate yearly progress standards previously used to evaluate schools. Minnesota received a waiver to abandon the AYP program.

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District 196 communication specialist Tony Taschner called the MMR, which uses MCA results as well as graduation rates and student growth from year to year, an improvement over the previous measure. But making the change means some adjustment as teachers and administrators learn exactly how the new results are calculated and what they mean for schools. The results released last week use MCA results from the past two years. Schools have already been evaluated under the old national standard using those results. The department of education will release another set of results in August using the most recent MCA results.

The new measure evaluates all schools on the proficiency of students, on the amount individual students grow from one year to the next and on their ability to close the gap between various groups. The performance of various groups of minority students in a district, for example, will be measured against the performance of white students statewide. The performance of students who receive free or reduced-price lunches will be measured against students who do not receive that financial assistance. At the high school level, the measure also uses graduation rate.

There are 50 points possible in each category, and schools are evaluated on the percentage of those points they get.

Based on the last two years of MCA results, Rosemount High school earned 91.13 percent of 200 possible points, second behind Eagan among District 196 high schools. Rosemount Middle School received 61.83 percent of its possible points. Shannon Park Elementary School was best among Rosemount elementary schools with 82.14 percent of possible points. Rosemount Elementary School had 55.01, Red Pine Elementary had 65.42 percent and Parkview Elementary had 53.37 percent.

Now, it's up to the district to explain those numbers to residents and make it clear that a number that is lower than it was under the old system doesn't necessarily indicate a problem.

"We're not going down," board member Gary Huusko said. "It's just the way we're rated now is different."

Taschner believes the basic elements of the new system will be easy for parents to understand.

"They shouldn't be that difficult to overcome and be able to talk about," Taschner said. "It's based on the MCAs, which they are accustomed to talking about."

That explanation should begin in earnest once the next round of results is released.