The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 27, 2013

Reading scores take dive statewide

More rigorous standards affect MCA results

MANKATO — Usually, students taking the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test perform better on the reading portion than the math.

But the new rigorous state reading standards — adopted to help ensure college- and career-readiness — resulted in big reading score declines in this year's results, released today by the Minnesota Department of Education. The new English Language Arts standards include more complex problems to teach students “how to effectively communicate and to use related knowledge and contexts to synthesize information into meaningful messages,” according to MDE.

District-wide, Mankato Area Public Schools scored above the state average at all grade levels in both reading and math. However, nine individual schools had grade levels that scored below the state average in reading.

“We understood that it was possible we would see a dip statewide,” said Heather Mueller, director of teaching and learning, who added that teachers and administrators have been working on implementing the new standards into classrooms since last year.

“With this level of rigor, it's going to take time,” said Gwen Walz, assessment coordinator.

The MCA test results break down proficiency in math and reading, beginning with grade 3. The test factors greatly into determining a school's Multiple Measurements Rating, which is the assessment criteria under the state's No Child Left Behind waiver.

The ratings — which include points based on proficiency, student growth, closure in achievement gap and graduation rate — will be released in early October. The MCA results influence all categories except for graduation rate.

Among Mankato schools, many schools had grades that scored in the 80th percentage bracket or above in math, and only a couple of schools had grade levels below 60 percent proficient. The opposite was true for reading, with various schools having one or more grade levels averaging below 60 percent proficient. Only two schools had grade levels with more than 80 percent proficiency in reading — Bridges Community School and Eagle Lake Elementary.

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