Photo by Chad Koenen
Henning School students once again ranked near the top of local schools in their state reading scores.

By Chad Koenen


Henning School continues to rank as one of the top schools in the region when it comes to reading and state standardized testing.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, Henning School Principal Thomas Williams reviewed the 2023 state testing results with members of the Henning School Board. The test results showed that Henning ranked first among Freshwater Education School Districts in reading proficiency and was third among Otter Tail County school districts in the same category. 

In reading, the school district had a total of 56.35 percent of 3rd-8th grade students and 10th grade students who were deemed as proficient in reading. The state average was just 49.92 percent. 

Fourth grade students had an astounding 76.47 percent of students deemed as proficient in reading, which was over 28 percent higher than the state average. The fourth grade was ranked as the top grade in proficiency in all of the Freshwater Education District, which includes 13 area school districts, as well as Otter Tail County school districts. 

Another highlight came in eighth grade where students showed a 16 percent growth from the 2021-22 school year. 

“We had some good growth within some different groups as they go from one grade level to the next,” said Williams. “From here we look to see how we can use this data to improve student motivation and instruction in regards to meeting standards.”

In math, third grade students had a proficiency rate of 74.19 percent, which was 15 percent higher than the state average and were second of all of the Freshwater Education District schools. The fourth grade class also far exceeded the state proficiency rate with 70.59 percent of students being deemed as proficient, which was 13.53 percent higher than the state average and second among all Freshwater Education School District. 

Eighth grade students also showed some growth as they had an 11.26 percent growth in proficiency from the 2021-22 school year and was second amongst all Freshwater Education School Districts. 

As a school district, Henning fell just below the state proficiency average in math with 45.25 percent of students being deemed as proficient, while the state average was 45.49 percent. 

In science, the fifth grade was second among all Otter Tail County school districts and exceeded the state average by more than 8.2 percent when 19 percent of students were deemed as proficient in the subject. As a whole, the school district exceeded the state average in science by 3.4 percent.

The state standardized tests are given each spring to Minnesota students across the state. 

Science tests were given to students in grades fifth, eighth and 10th grade. 

Reading is given to all students in grades 3-8 and 10th. 

Math is given to students in grades 3-8 and 11th.

Students who meet or exceed state standards are deemed proficient in that subject matter, while students who do not meet state standards are deemed as not proficient. 

Henning School results are as follows (state average are denoted in parenthesis):

Third grade- reading: 54.84 (47.42), math: 74.19 (59.1)

Fourth grade- reading: 76.47 (48.36), math: 70.59 (57.06)

Fifth grade- reading: 60 (58.73), math: 46.67 (44.41), science: 56.67 (48.41)

Sixth grade- reading: 54.29 (53.43), math: 28.57 (39.65)

Seventh grade- reading: 50 (45.21), math: 30 (39.7)

Eighth grade- reading: 47.62 (44.77), math: 42.86 (40.27), science: 19.05 (27.60)

10th grade- reading: 58.82, science: 47.06 (39.21)

11th grade- math: 26.67 (36.02)

In other news

• Held a public hearing to consider granting a proposed property tax abatement for the construction of a new parking lot. The abatement is a tax that can be levied on the school district taxpayers to construct new and improve existing parking lots. 

• Accepted the resignation of Brad Fisher as an assistant girls basketball coach. 

• Approved a resolution to issue a general obligation facilities bond in the amount of $6,885,000 for a variety of projects at the school. One of the largest parts of the proposed improvements will include an HVAC project that will replace the current HVAC system at the school and add dehumidification throughout the building. 

• Accepted a donation from Ross Ducept, trustee of the Arc Bursch Revocable Living Trust, in the amount of $170,209 to establish the Vernon and Are Bursch Scholarship Fund. The money will be deposited into a CD at First National Bank in Henning with the earnings deposited into the district’s scholarship checking account annually. 

• Approved an increase in the activity driver rate of pay from $15 to $16 per hour with a minimum of two hours per trip. This rate is for all approved drivers, including coaches. However, route bus drivers will be given priority to drive. 

• Approved the contract of Kayla Hoelscher with the additional duties of payroll and benefits coordinator. 

• Heard that participation numbers in football and volleyball are relatively consistent with years past, but are thin in the junior and senior classes. 

• Heard that enrollment is currently at 358 students in grades K-12, with the largest class being seventh grade with 37 students and the smallest class being fifth grade with just 14 students. There are currently 18 students in 12th grade and 25 students in kindergarten. 

• Heard that a change in the current school year calendar may be necessary to account for next summer’s expansive HVAC project. A proposed plan for the current school year and for the 2024-25 school year will likely be brought before the school board in October, but the plan is to start the school year one week later than normal next fall to account for the project and potentially let out school a few days early in May 2024. 

• Heard from Nathan Norton of ICS concerning the Indoor Air Quality and school building upgrade projects being proposed at Henning School next year. The total cost of all of the projects is estimated to be $8.5 million. Projects being proposed are HVAC and IAQ improvements, sidewalk implements, replacing elementary windows, special education restroom upgrades, roof replacement, fire alarm replacement, demolishing the white storage building near the bus garages and constructing a new parking lot, as well as other projects.