MN Test Scores Trending in Wrong Direction

The gap between white and black students is growing.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Data released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Education shows that students test scores have declined slightly from 2016 to 2017.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) reading scores show that 60 percent of students tested meet or exceed expectations. This is down from 61 percent in 2016, but still up from 58 percent in 2013 when the current test was first introduced.

While 69 percent of white students met or exceeded expectations, up from 68 percent in 2016, minorities scored much lower. Only Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students bettered their scores from 2016, hitting 52 percent. Asian students slid from 54 to 53 percent, African American students held steady at 33 percent, and Hispanic students held at 38 percent.

“Test scores are just one part of the picture to understand how students are doing in Minnesota,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in the press release. “It’s frustrating to see test scores slowly increasing over time, but there’s more to providing a student with a well-rounded education than can be seen in a test.

From 2012 to 2017, Minnesota students have seen their proficiency in math slide. In 2012, when students had three opportunities to take the test online, 65 percent of students met or exceeded expectations on the MCA. In 2013 in more traditional testing settings 63 percent were proficient, and now in 2017 only 61 percent of students met or exceeded expectations.

White students held steady with 68 percent testing proficient. Hispanic, Native American, and African American students all saw the percentage of proficient students decrease, with African Americans scoring lowest with only 28 percent meeting expectations in math.

In science, 54 percent of students met or exceeded expectations on the MCA. This is down from 55 percent in 2016, but up from 50 percent in 2012 when the current version of the test was first introduced.

There was a huge drop off for students of a Hawaiian/Pacific Islander background, as the 51 percent scored proficient on the science MCA in 2016, but only 35 percent did so in 2017.

African American, Asian, and Hispanic students all saw slight drops in proficiency, with African American students faring the poorest at 22 percent meeting or exceeding expectations. White students held steady at 63 percent proficient.

“This reinforces why we must ensure that all children get the opportunity to a great start, so that we can close gaps early and sustain that progress by supporting schools through our Regional Centers of Excellence,” Cassellius said.

Anders Koskinen