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Minnesota: Flat or declining student test scores in reading and math

Aug 30, 2018, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota reading scores stay flat, while math proficiency declines The latest test scores from Minnesota schools show no improvement in math and reading and little movement in the state’s persistent achievement gap for students of color — but state education officials are downplaying the results, saying they don’t provide a full picture of student or school performance. Despite years of work to boost test scores and reduce disparities between student groups, statewide reading scores remained flat for the third year in a row, with 60 percent of students meeting state standards for proficiency in the 2017-18 school year. Math scores declined, with 57 percent of students meeting state standards, down from 59 percent a year earlier. Meanwhile, the performance gaps improved slightly but remained stark: a 35 percentage point gap between white and black students in reading and a 38 percentage point difference in math statewide, with even bigger divides for students in Minneapolis and St. Paul…. Cassellius acknowledged that the test scores show that more work remains for Minnesota schools on a number of fronts, including proficiency rates in core academic subjects. … The Minneapolis Public Schools reported flat scores in math, where 42 percent of students met standards, and a slight uptick in reading, where nearly 45 percent of students were proficient, up from 43 percent a year earlier…. In the St. Paul School District, reading scores inched upward, with 38.4 percent of students testing proficient — a 0.6 percentage point improvement from a year ago — but math scores fell by two percentage points to 33 percent proficiency. “While we are pleased with the slight increase in reading performance, particularly in grades 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10, we acknowledge our lack of sustained and progressive increases in all areas,” Superintendent Joe Gothard said in a statement. “We’ve worked to address the challenges to achievement, and we simply have not made enough progress. This is disappointing.”… Despite the structural changes that ensued, the gap between white students and black students who tested proficient in math increased from 45 percentage points in 2013 — a “horrific” number in one school board member’s view — to 49 percentage points this year. In reading, the gap this year is similarly severe with nearly 50 percentage points separating white and black students…. “The fact is that Minnesota cannot succeed in a global economy if only 60 percent of our students can read or do math at grade level,” he said. “At a time when talent is in short supply and employers are desperate for workers, we cannot afford to continue to fail 40 percent of our students — many of whom are students of color.”

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