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Editorial: RF children: Odds of success in their favor

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It's no sure thing, nothing in life is, but attending school in the River Falls School District gets a student off on the right foot.

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This paper's documented school test scores for decades. River Falls students always exceed state and national standards. And in this part of the state, the only school district that compares is Hudson.

If you saw the standardized test-score comparisons for this region in last week's Journal, you pretty much get the picture. While year-to-year scores fluctuate, River Falls' position at or near the top in the core subjects never changes.

For this year's tests, River Falls led in the percentage of students who attained the top two rankings -- advanced or proficient -- in reading, language, math and social studies. River Falls finished second to Spring Valley in science, but actually had more advanced students, the highest ranking, than Spring Valley.

Of course our school administrators and principals are more interested in breaking down scores by grade level and over several years to pick out trends -- both positive and negative.

Positive trends result in showing teachers what types of instruction are working. Negative trends result in going back to the drawing board to find how instruction or the curriculum can be adjusted and improved.

We always find our school administrators humble about strong test scores by River Falls students. Obviously they're pleased, know it reflects well for the school district but don't go around carrying a banner. This editorial is the banner.

In last week's story, Academic Services Director Mike Johnson was quick to acknowledge that a tradition of support from educationally minded parents, dynamic students and committed teachers keeps River Falls aloft on the academic scale.

But Johnson cautioned that great test scores are only a part of what the River Falls School District is about. He cited the emphasis on community service and character education -- exemplified by last month's Great Greenwood School Giveaway (free garage sale) - as just one example of what defines the district   

There are many other examples. Here's one you may have missed from the Journal's April 18 sports section.

The high school gymnastics team, Division 2 2013 state champs, was also named winner of the team Sportsmanship Award for the 2013 winter state tournament.

To win both the athletic and sportsman trophies -- how awesome is that? Sportsmanship judging was based not only on conduct of athletes and coaches, but also by cheer and support groups, mascots, bands and fans -- in other words, the whole district package.

Similar tournament sportsmanship awards over the past 15 years have gone to the girls hockey team (three times in a row) and to the boys wrestling team.

Those are some of the immeasurable ways our school district -- aside from the very measurable test scores -- defines itself and steers students on the path to success.

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