Minnesota Is Not Fixing the Achievement Gap

Achievement Gap By lecroitg [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota’s achievement gap remains persistently one of the worst in the nation according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

The NAEP science results show Minnesota, in total, outperforming the United States as a whole. Forty-three percent of fourth graders in Minnesota scored proficient in Science compared with 39 percent nationally. At the eighth grade level, those numbers are 45 percent and 34 percent. Only New Hampshire performs better in that regard.

Similarly, in math results, Minnesota ranks second both for fourth and eighth graders with 54 and 48 percent of students scoring proficient respectively. This is just behind Massachusetts in both cases and much better than the nation’s marks of 40 and 33 percent.  

The problem arises with how differently white students and students of color perform.

Less than 14 percent of African American students in Minnesota scored proficient on the science tests. Twenty-five percent of African American fourth graders scored proficient on math, but by eighth grade that number dropped to 14 percent.

On the other hand, their white peers went from 63 to 56 percent proficient on math from fourth to eighth grade in math. In science, they scored 51 percent proficient in fourth grade, and 54 percent in eighth grade.

Minnesota’s 42 point achievement gap between white and African American eighth graders in science is the largest in the nation. It is six points larger than the nation as a whole. The achievement gap in fourth grade science, and in fourth and eighth grade math also is larger than the United States as a whole.

This is most pronounced in eighth grade math, as Minnesota’s 42 point difference is 12 points larger than the nation as a whole.

These national results corroborate the MCA results showing how differently Twin Cities schools and schools statewide are able to serve white students and students of color.

The NAEP is also administered at the 12th grade level, but those results are not broken down at the state level.

Anders Koskinen