Twin Cities Academy gets visit from education commissioner

The East Side's own Twin Cities Academy High School, it would seem, is at the top of the heap for performance rankings in the Twin Cities.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius has noticed that, and showed up on Monday, Oct. 19, to hear how the school achieves its high level of performance. Casselius toured schools that have been identified as Reward Schools four or five times in recent years, in hopes of learning more about what they are doing to achieve academic success.

The school has been ranked as a "Reward School" for five years running.

The Reward School status is a ranking doled out by the state's education office for Title 1 schools, which are schools that receive federal funding for students living in poverty. The ranking is for the top 15 percent of Title 1 schools, and given out using criterion from the state's education measurement tool Multiple Measurements Rating, which looks at things like academic proficiency, growth, academic gap reduction and graduation rates.

In a letter sent to the school, Casselius told staff, "Your school has consistently been among the highest performing in the state, and this recognition reflects the incredible sustained success of your students year after year."

Betsy Lueth, the school's principal, chalks up the school's high rankings to its small class sizes, great teacher, and good relationships with students and families.

The school has an average class size of 25 students at its high school, and a total of around 250 students. There's also a Twin Cities Academy middle school, which feeds into the high school. The schools are in the process of merging, and also moving into a new building nearby, which is currently being constructed, on the former Cemstone site on Minnehaha Avenue near Hazelwood Street.

The new 61,000-
square-foot, $15 million complex will offer a larger gym, a band room, a state-of-the-art science room, an art room with a kiln, a library, and athletic fields. Many of these amenities have not been available in their current location in Sacred Heart Church's school building.

The new building will also allow the school to grow its enrollment. It's expected to be ready for the 2016-2017 school year.

— Patrick Larkin


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