Minnesota’s MCA scores were released today, and there’s plenty of analysis spinning around, though it’s hard to claim much real change from last year.
Statewide, the Department of Education claimed a two percent increase in third-grade reading scores, but overall there was only a 1.3 percent increase, from 74 percent to 75.3 percent proficient. Math scores, which had dropped precipitously last year due to a new test, rose this year — but was that a real increase, or was it due to students (and teachers) getting accustomed to the new test, or to the new allowance for three re-takes of the test? Even so, the math numbers (61.3 percent proficient in 2012) remained below the numbers for 2008, 2009 and 2010.
St. Paul’s press release points to “steady growth in reading proficiency in the early grades,” claiming credit for the district’s Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan. Overall, SPPS had a 1.2 percent reading gain across grade levels, and less than one percent for math.
The achievement gaps continue — for reading, low-income students achieved 59.6 percent proficiency in reading, which put them 15.7 percent behind the state average. In 2008, the gap was 18.7 percent. African-American students tested at 52.7 percent proficiency in reading, putting them 22.6 percent behind the state average. There is improvement — in 2008, African-American students tested at only 43.6 percent proficient, and the gap was 27.1 percent.
If the numbers are making your head spin, here’s the bottom line:
- Reading numbers mean more than math numbers this year, because of changes in the math test (last year) and changes in the way it is administered (lots of online testing, and lots of do-overs) this year.
- Student achievement across the state is improving, albeit slowly.
- The achievement gaps, whether based on race or on income, remain discouragingly large.