With tougher test, Minnesota reading scores drop dramatically

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Minnesota student reading test scores fell significantly – from a 76 percent proficiency rate to 57 percent - after a more difficult standardized test was introduced, the Star Tribune reports. In math, proficiency dipped just slightly from 62 percent to 61 percent.

One bright spot: Science scores rose 1 or 2 percentage points for elementary, middle and high school test takers, the Pioneer Press notes.

Scores were being publicly released Tuesday for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test taken in the spring.

The tests were taken by third- through eighth-grade students and 10th-graders. The assessments offer one indication about whether students are on track to graduate, the Associated Press notes.

As is typically the case, an important story in the score data was also that of the stubborn "achievement gap" between white and minority students. The Pioneer Press has a bar graph that shows the gap going back several years.

State education officials urged parents and others not to compare last year's scores with this year's scores, given that the test was brand new. The state Department of Education has parent fact sheets about the tests.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius cautioned that true progress should be measured on trends established over several years, not just on one set of year-to-year results.

“Anytime a new test based on new standards is given, a drop in scores is to be expected,” Cassellius said in a press release Tuesday. “But setting high expectations is the right thing to do. If we want our students to compete in a global economy, we must continue to stretch and hold ourselves accountable for helping students meet higher standards.”

Cassellius put it this way to the Pioneer Press: "Our scores didn't go down. It's a brand new test. It's a completely different test. Our kids didn't get dumber in one year."

It was just a week ago that there was highly positive news about Minnesota student achievement – for the eighth year in a row, Minnesota led all states in their scores on the college-readiness assessment ACT test.

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