Dear Hiawatha Family,

August 29, 2019- Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released statewide results for North Star, the Minnesota school accountability system. This system looks at a variety of factors including MCA Proficiency, English Language Proficiency, Academic Growth, and Consistent Attendance. Today we celebrate where our Hiawatha Academies scholars have grown tremendously, and we reflect on the next leap forward on our path to improvement.

The Results

We continue to see evidence of growth and progress in both math and reading. The percentage of Hiawatha Academies scholars who moved up an achievement level exceeded the statewide average. 21% of scholars improved an achievement level in math compared to 13% statewide, and 24% improved in reading compared to 19% statewide. Our scholars who are English Language Learners continue to demonstrate growth in English proficiency on par with their peers across the state.

Academic progress results were particularly encouraging at Hiawatha Leadership Academy – Morris Park where 54% of scholars improved an achievement level on the MCA in math, and where 47% of students learning English met their English Language Proficiency goal.

While elementary academic growth was encouraging, proficiency scores remained stagnant across our network, falling short of what we know is possible.

At Hiawatha Academies, we know a student’s experience in school is as important as their performance on assessments. Attendance is one indicator of students’ experience and sense of belonging in school. On the state’s new measure of consistent attendance, Hiawatha continues to outperform statewide school attendance with 88% of Hiawatha scholars attend school more than 90% of the time.

Hiawatha Academies’ Response

Over the past 2 years, Hiawatha Academies implemented curricular, instructional, and leadership changes in response to declining academic results. Academic growth is a strong early indicator of improvement. “We continue to build upon our foundation of academic growth while adjusting in areas with the greatest need for improvement,” says Hiawatha Academies Chief Academic Officer Rochelle Van Djik.

We are continuing the implementation and expansion of high-quality curriculum and instructional practices. We will build on the foundations of 2018-19 with the following focus areas in the school year 2019-20:

  1. Access to grade-level assignments every day in every subject. Hiawatha Academies commits that students will consistently work on grade-level assignments, every day in every classroom. Hiawatha Academies adopted best-in-class ELA, math, and science curriculum in the 2018-19 school year. In 2019-20, we will expand the successful science curriculum to include 3rd and 4th grades, and increase practice, coaching, and adoption of curricular resources in all grades.

  2. Consistently challenging, engaging instruction. Hiawatha Academies is investing in instructional coaching for all staff to ensure all classroom practices that require authentic, cognitively demanding student engagement. We focus on instructional practices that elevate student discussion, consistent practice, and require critical analysis. Hiawatha Academies has invested in staffing campus instructional coaches and launching rigorous professional development for those instructional leaders.

  1. Authentic literacy for our youngest learners. Hiawatha Academies is adopting a research-based early literacy program for grades K-3, in partnership with Groves Academy to provide explicit daily instruction in phonics and foundational reading skills.

Hiawatha Academies is a community of dedicated teachers, hardworking scholars, devoted families, and steadfast community supporters. We are immensely grateful to our entire community for partnering with us to break the systemic inequities that persist in education. Through your continued support and partnerships, we strengthen our efforts to disrupt inequities by keeping every child’s success at the center of everything we do.


Colette Owens
Executive Director