Wahpeton Middle School (WMS), whose student body includes youth in grades 6-8, is celebrating this fall.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) has named WMS as part of the top 15 percent of all public schools statewide. The rank was determined based on the North Dakota Accountability Index (NDAI), Wahpeton Public Schools leadership learned.

“The NDAI is essentially a public school’s score, points a school earns based on points possible, and placed in ranking order,” North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler stated.

Middle School Principal Steve Hockert explained that Wahpeton Public Schools’ four schools each received their own accountability grade. A third of Wahpeton Middle School’s grade was based on results of math and language arts assessments, followed by a third based on student growth from one year to another and the final third based on the results of a school climate and culture survey.

“It’s quite an honor,” Hockert said. “I want to thank the students for a job well done, as well as all of the adults in our building. Teachers, assistants, cooks, secretaries, janitors — it takes a village to run a school.”

Members from Wahpeton Middle School’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams collaborated on acceptance statements. They are as follows:

"We, at WMS, pride ourselves on prioritizing students by building positive relationships, and creating an environment that students can feel welcomed into and want to be a part of each day,” the eighth grade team stated. “Our high levels of energy and enthusiasm for learning flows freely throughout the hallways and into our classrooms, which gives us an edge for student engagement. We truly love our jobs, and the kids know it!”

“As a middle school staff, we have been striving to instill the core values of having strong relationships, advanced rigor, personal responsibility, and respect for all students and staff,” the seventh grade team stated. “We believe our unique approach to implementing the four Rs helps students become life-long learners.  The flexibility and willingness of our staff to try new things has been a driving force for our students' success.”

“Teachers take pride in planning and preparing engaging lessons for the students and set high expectations for them,” the sixth grade team stated. “The climate and culture of our school is top-notch. Our house system and school-wide events sure make WMS a fun environment in which to work and learn.”

Hockert cited the climate survey, saying all are proud of Wahpeton Middle School and everything it has become so far.

“We have a good climate and culture, with our education a part of that. Our students feel welcome and safe when they come to school,” he said.

Schools are urged by NDDPI to seek opportunities to share best practices among their colleagues. The idea is to spread awareness about improving graduation rates and to address equity gaps for at-risk student populations.

“In 2020-2021, NDDPI calculated accountability to be used only as a tool for school districts to identify areas of underperformance and proactively implement school improvement strategies,” Baesler stated.

Wahpeton Middle School is part of an education complex with Wahpeton Elementary School and currently, Zimmerman Elementary School. The three schools are neighbors to Wahpeton High School, which houses Wahpeton Public Schools’ district office.

NDDPI’s commitments, the department stated, include supporting schools and districts in gaining a deeper understanding of data, providing resources for high-impact use of funds and ensuring students are on the right path towards graduating Choice Ready. The department commended Wahpeton Middle School for its commitment to all youth and the positive impact of its hard work and dedication to students.

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