Minnesota public schools continue to fall behind in student proficiency

Nearly half of all students (48.9%) cannot read at their grade level, up from 40.1% in 2018.

St. Paul Public Schools

Nearly 400 public schools throughout Minnesota are set to receive additional support from the state education department as student proficiency scores continue to lag or fall further behind.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced on Thursday an expansion of its relatively new COMPASS program (Collaborative Minnesota Partnerships to Advance Student Success) to render “various levels of support” to 371 public schools, including “15 entire school districts.”

The announcement follows the department’s release of student scores on various statewide assessments. According to the data, nearly half of all students (48.9%) cannot read at their grade level, up from 40.1% in 2018.

Math scores saw a slight uptick to 44.8% from last year’s 44.2%, but this year’s scores are still a far cry from 2018 and 2019, when math proficiency was a respective 57.2% and 55%.

Things are even worse in Minnesota’s inner cities. Just 33.2% of students in Minneapolis Public Schools are meeting or exceeding math standards, with another 42.4% reading at grade level.

In St. Paul, those numbers are 34.7% for reading and 25.2% for math.

According to an MDE press release, 103 high schools with graduation rates below 67% and 46 additional schools will receive the “highest level of comprehensive support” from the department. Another 58 schools will receive “targeted support” in order to “focus on a single student group.”

The MDE did not publicize graduation rates this year, though data from recent years has hovered between 82 and 83%.

Two Republican members of the Minnesota House of Representatives serving as education leads, Reps. Ron Kresha and Sondra Erickson, wrote in a statement that the sluggish test scores are an indictment of the “failed pandemic policies championed by Gov. Tim Walz and Democrats.”

“Instead of focusing efforts on equipping students with the reading, writing, and math skills that are the foundation of a great education, Gov. Walz and his allies are promoting controversial and politically motivated curriculum,” the joint statement reads. “It’s time to drop the indoctrination and get back to basics that will give students the skills they need to succeed in life — Minnesota students cannot afford to wait any longer.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.