Montevideo Middle School recognized in top 30 elementary schools in Minnesota

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News
Principal Shawn Huntley with the school's plaque recognizing the district's achievement.

Montevideo’s Middle School is celebrating a significant achievement, having been notified at the end of October that they have been recognized as one of US News and World Report’s top 30 elementary schools in Minnesota. Not only is MMS in the top 30 schools, but they ranked thirteenth in the list. “It’s just an honor to receive that information,” says Middle School Principal Shawn Huntley.

US News and World Report ranks schools based on both proficiency data and the school's projected student proficiency given each school’s demographics. “Given our demographics within the middle school of having 21.2 percent of our students receiving Special Education services, we also have 25 percent minority students and also a socio-economic gap with disadvantaged students, so it takes those projections with demographics and gives us our projected efficiency or projected scores on that,” says Huntley. MMS exceeded projected scores on math and reading projections with 57% of students scoring at or above proficient levels for math and 63% of students scoring at or above that level for reading. The ranking was concluded from 871 elementary schools statewide and 441 middle schools.

Huntley attributes the achievement to initiatives the school has put in place over recent years to identify students who may be struggling and put services into place quickly. Huntley says they manage this by monitoring student data frequently, and modifying and adjusting based on needs they see through assessments and classroom data. “It’s really a concerted effort at the student individual level to provide them with the tools that they need to be successful,” he says. “We have a lot of good systems in place to ensure that we catch students before it’s too late and get them the help that they need. Those systems have really allowed us to use data to inform our instruction.”

With the ranking, the school district is able to display the imagery of their ranking provided by US News and World Report on their website, and have a plaque on the way that will be displayed in the awards case inside the school. “It allows us to share with the community the great things we are doing. It’s really about providing a quality education for all students,” Huntley says. “Given our demographics, it can be a challenge sometimes for teachers to accommodate in the classrooms, but it just goes to show our teachers do an excellent job of meeting student’s needs and also our support services such as Special Ed., ESL, Title services for interventions are working. It’s our multi-tiered systems of support that we have in place that's meeting the needs of our students. It’s nice to be recognized for that, and it really is an award for the district, not just the middle school.” 

The recognition comes just a short time after the school was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School in 2019. “We were the only school in Minnesota to receive that award for closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged populations, so getting that award in 2019 and then this one in 2022 just reaffirms that we are doing great things for all kids. That’s the coolest thing about it all,” Huntley says.