Press Releases

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2012

Contact: Keith Hovis, 651-582-8275, 651-308-2252 or keith.hovis@state.mn.us

Minnesota Assessments Show Gains in Math and Reading

American Indian and Hispanic students make especially strong progress

ROSEVILLE – The Minnesota Department of Education released statewide assessment results today showing that students in grades 3 – 8 are making gains in reading and math. Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius pointed to a 2 point overall gain in 3rd grade reading scores and even larger gains in math among the state’s 7th and 8th graders. Grade 7 increased from 50.9 to 57.2 percent proficient and grade eight increased from 52.6 to 60.7 percent proficient.

The increase in reading scores comes just two years after adoption of the more rigorous 2010 reading standards as well as a strategic focus on reading well by third grade spearheaded by Governor Dayton and Commissioner Cassellius.

“The upward trends we’re seeing show that we are on the right path to prepare our students for success,” said Commissioner Cassellius. “As teachers, principals and districts continue to sharpen their focus on reading well by third grade; I believe we’ll continue to see even greater gains across all grade levels as time goes on.”

Assessment results also showed increased proficiency in grades 3-8 math MCA scores, particularly in grades 7 and 8. Cassellius pointed to new, more robust math standards adopted in 2007, and projected that scores will continue to increase as students and teachers focus on mastery of the more rigorous content.

Like reading scores in grades 3 – 8, 10th grade reading scores also increased; however, student scores for 11th grade math declined from 2011.

The 2012 results showed gains in nearly every category among the state’s students of color and special populations, particularly the math scores for American Indian and Hispanic students in grades 3 - 8. Cassellius said the state’s sharp focus on all students, particularly diverse and disadvantaged students, is beginning to build momentum and close gaps.

“The good news is that our kids of color and in poverty are making greater gains,” said Cassellius. “Now we need to put the pedal to the metal to help them become proficient. We won’t rest until we see all our students achieving mastery in every subject and in every grade.”

This year, 88% of students in grades 3-8 took their math MCA test online. Compared to paper tests, online assessments use adaptive technology that customizes tests based on a student’s answers. The tests provide immediate feedback to teachers so they can make real-time adjustments in their teaching strategies, and provides a better tool to help teachers meet individual student needs more effectively.

The statewide accountability release of MCA, MCA-Modified and MTAS results is part of a two-phase release of data by MDE. Today’s results provide a look at student proficiency statewide. Later this month, new Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) scores are scheduled to be released, showing how individual schools are doing in multiple areas, including growth toward proficiency and progress in closing achievement gaps.

A recently convened assessment task force is examining the state’s testing system and will be providing recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Education for better testing and accountability.

###