Read them and weep

Jul 31, 2015 by

Devin Foley –

Surely the numbers Better Ed has been publishing for years couldn’t be true! There’s no way that Minnesota could possibly have a crisis in education.

We do.

With today’s release of the latest Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) scores, we find that for three years in a row now less than 60% of Minnesota students are reading at grade level:

That exclamation point you see in the chart above, taken directly from the Minnesota Department of Education’s website, is to tell you that the test changed in 2013 and to ignore the disparity in scores between 2012 and 2013. But it’s 2015 now and things haven’t improved. That test change has revealed a lot about what’s actually happening in our schools.

Now, some will argue, that we shouldn’t think much of standardized tests. These individuals have a variety of reasons, but the simply reality is that we have the MCAs to gauge the overall achievement levels of our students through an independent audit.

As Robert F. Kennedy argued in the U.S. Senate in 1965:

“I think it is very difficult for a person who lives in a community to know whether, in fact, his educational system is what it should be, whether if you compare his community to a neighboring community they are doing everything they should be, whether the people that are operating the educational system in a state or local community are as good as they should be.

…I wonder if we couldn’t have some system of reporting…through some testing system that would be established (by) which the people at the local community would know periodically…what progress had been made.”

Minnesotans believe in education. We invest billions of dollars each year into our schools. Unfortunately, what we’re learning from the last three years of testing is that our schools are simply not doing what we need them to do despite enormous spending.

How well are our high school students prepared for college or careers? Less than 60% of 10th graders are reading at grade level according to the Department of Education:

And less than 50% of 11th graders are at grade level for math:

The best of the state’s public school districts aren’t doing so well either. Almost one out of four Edina 10th grade students aren’t reading at grade level now:

Southwest High School in Minneapolis was once ranked the best high school in Minnesota. Less than 50% of its 10th grade students are reading at grade level now:

Far worse is what’s happening in the urban core. In Minneapolis Public Schools, where the district spends $21,000 per student, only 32% of 10th grade students are reading at grade level:

In St. Paul Public Schools, only 32% of 10th grade students are reading at grade level, too:

We have a crisis on our hands. While we can look around at the world of today and think things are fine, we have to remember that it was built by adults who were educated decades upon decades ago. The impact of a generation who is poorly educated despite spending incredible amounts of time in schools is just beginning to be felt. And it’s going to get worse.

Educating our students should be the goal. If the current system of education is unable to do so, as the numbers are indicating, then it is time to explore new systems and approaches to education. It is time for a serious conversation about school choice.

Source: Read them and weep | Better Ed

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1 Comment

  1. The rules of phonics have been ignored for too long. They are simple, and then we UNDERSTAND our interesting language. If schools would try this, for free, andon its own, the lessons would be transformed.