Congratulations to Minnesota students/educators/families on reading progress

Sep 17, 2011 by

Joe Nathan –

Standardized test results released last week show many students made progress in reading, and still have work to do in math. While standardized tests are only one of many important ways to measure student and school progress, this year’s results provide valuable information.

The best news is in reading. Some examples from around the state:

· Some of the state’s largest progress was at North Lakes charter in Forest Lake. North Lake charter percentage of reading proficient students improved from 71% to 85%.

· Anoka district students increased from 76% in 2009-10 to 78% last spring.

· PACT Charter (In Ramsey) increased from 74 to 77% proficient.

· Lakeville went from 81% in 2009-10 to 87% last spring

· Farmington increased from 79% to 80%.

· Statewide, the percentage of students passing the reading test increased from 72% to 75%.

Thanks to Joan Arbisi Little for her statistical analysis of MDE data.

I think the progress in reading is a real tribute to Minnesota’s students, educators and families. These are very challenging times. I don’t have to list the array of economic problems, and partisan political battles. Way too many people are unemployed, or under-employed. Yet, despite all this, educators and families helped a growing percentage of young people reach proficiency in reading. Congratulations!

Scores were down grades 3-8 in math across the state. Minnesota Department of Education officials said this is due, as noted in a press release, ‘due in large part to a new assessment designed to measure student’s grasp of more difficult content.”

In a press release, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius explained, “This year’s test will set a baseline for us to measure our improvement over the next several years. Just as we have with 11th grade math scores and grades 3 – 8 MCA II reading scores, we believe we’ll continue to see continued gains in student mastery of the new rigorous standards.”

Statewide the percentage of students passing the math test declined from 66% to about 57%. However, the percentage of 11th graders passing the state’s math test increased from 43 to 48%. So at both elementary and high school level, more work is needed.

Complete results are available not only for districts, but also for individual schools, and even for specific grade levels in schools. You can find them on the Minnesota Department of Education website, education.state.mn.us

When purchasing a car most of us don’t just look at one factor, whether it’s gas mileage, safety rating, ranking in various consumer magazines, special features, etc.

The same is true in judging a school. Yes, we ought to look at the test scores. We should look at whether a growing percentage of students are passing the statewide tests. But we also should be looking at factors like safety, attendance, and how families, students and graduates feel about the school. Families may also have other criteria, such as what clubs, sports and other curricular programs are available at the school.

This isn’t a plea for passivity. The tests help identify both progress, and the need for considerably more work in math.

But I think it’s important to provide a full, fair picture. These results do show progress in reading, a critical area. Thanks to families, educators and students for helping make this happen.

Joe Nathan, formerly a public school teacher, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester College. Reactions welcome, jnathan@macalester.edu

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.