Minnesota Students Make Small Gains On GRAD Test

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota students made slight progress this year on standardized tests that determine if they’re meeting state requirements to graduate from high school, but fewer than half of the state’s 11th graders were considered proficient in math, according to test results released Tuesday.

The data from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments also highlighted the academic achievement gap between white and minority students. The MCA includes the Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma, or GRAD tests, of writing, reading and math.

For example, while 67 percent of white 11th graders met the state’s math graduation requirement on the first try, only 24 percent of the state’s black students, 32 percent of its Hispanic students, 32 percent of its American Indian students and 53 percent of Asian students did so.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said it was good to see some progress overall, but the low scores among some of subgroups — including racial minorities, English language learners and students with disabilities — wasn’t acceptable.

“You can hardly be happy when you see some of the subgroups and the scores that they have,” she said. “Obviously, that’s very concerning and troubling. It’s evident that we need to something different. The status quo is not working.”

She said the state needs to find successful approaches from within its school districts, highlight them, and then find ways to replicate those successes statewide.

“That really is key to closing the gap,” Cassellius said.

Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, the state teacher’s union, generally agreed with her approach of passing around successful education ideas. “It’s critical that Minnesota spread the academic excellence found in most of our schools to every classroom and every student in the state,” he said.

The data released Tuesday did not include breakdowns by district and school. That information is scheduled to be released in August.

The results are interpreted in two ways, the first to determine how many students meet state standards for graduation and the other, slightly higher standard, to see if students are what the state considers “proficient” in math and reading.

Students are tested to see if they meet the state’s graduate standards in writing in 9th grade, reading in 10th grade and math in 11th grade.

The new data show that, statewide, 79 percent of 10th graders met the state’s reading requirement for graduating on their first try, up one percentage point from 2010. In math, 59 percent of 11th graders met the standard, also a one percentage point increase from last year.

However, the share of the state’s ninth graders who met the writing standard on their first try fell one percentage point to 89 percent.

Students are allowed to re-take the test if they don’t pass on their first attempt and, under a law passed in 2009, they may not have to pass the math test at all. For the next four years, students who can’t pass the math test can graduate if they finish their course work, take a remedial class and take the test twice.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments measure proficiency in reading and math, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The data show 75 percent of Minnesota 10th graders were proficient in reading on the test, which held steady from 2010 and was up from 71 percent in 2008. In math, only 49 percent of 11th graders were proficient in 2011, up six percentage points from 2010 and 15 points from 2008.

The achievement gap among racial groups also was clear. Fifty-six percent of white 11th graders were considered proficient in math, but it was only 17 percent of black students, 23 percent of Hispanic students, 23 percent of American Indian students and 43 percent of Asian students.

Cassellius said the scores show that her department needs to look into how math is taught in the state. The standards haven’t changed since 2003, and still fewer than half of all 11th graders are proficient, although that’s up from only 34 percent in 2008.

“I believe we have to do something different in mathematics,” she said.

However, Kent Pekel, executive director the College Readiness Consortium at the University of Minnesota, was more optimistic. He said comparing the 2011 math scores to 2006 shows strong growth among all groups.

While only 17 percent of black students were proficient in 2011, that’s up from 4 percent in 2006, for example. The percentage of proficient Hispanic students jumped 13 points from only 10 percent in 2006. The share of proficient white students rose 23 points from 33 percent in 2006.

“It does show we are making some progress in math with moving more kids toward proficiency, but it also shows we have a core group of students in our high schools who are way low that bar,” Pekel said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • tuna-free dolphin

    Get ready for the bad news and the commensurate squeals for more money. That’s always the only correct answer for the educrats.

    • Teach

      We don’t need more money but more authority to permanently remove students who are disruptive and insubordinate. At some point, education should be seen as a priviledge. Students who are all tracked for college who will not be going to college tend to be the worst. Let’s get two tracks going: one for students who are college bound and one for technical education. For students who cannot contol themselves and make learning difficult for other students–boot camp.

      • k


  • Dad


    Maybe if you sent schools children who are ready to learn and parents who are involved, you wouldn’t have to whine.

    • k

      My child is a Straight A student and when she is not taking an Advanced placemtnt class, usually some kind of elective, she has mentioned on several occasions how it seems like nothing gets done because there are 1 or 2 rude, disrespectful kids in the class making it impossible. She has never had this complaint about the AP classes. Put the kids that WANT to learn and do something with their life in classes with other kids that have similar goals. It is not all about not preparing our kids. I also have a step-son who was readied for school, but he constantly skips classes and is disruptive. He is ADHD and dyslexic and even though his father and mother have tried tutoring, special programs dedicated to helping kids with dyslexia, medication for the ADHD, he had made some choices to do what he is doing. He did fine till recently, he is 17 and has decided he doesn’t give a crap about school. Our other kids all do great in school also. So, my son is may fault, even though he has been given more time, attention, tutoring etc that my other 4 children. Wow, Dad you are brilliant

    • tuna-free dolphin

      I’m not whining. Mine were home schooled and my daughter graduated a couple years ago from UWRF summa cum laude(highest honors). We had to test them every two years while they were home schooled and each time they were in the top 90th percentile or higher, compared to their public schooled moronic peers. And we did it for under four hundred bucks a year for both kids. What does it cost to send a kid to public school for a year these days, about 15K? And your lucky if half of them can even count out change when they’re done. What a joke. But yeah, just throw some more cash down that sucking vortex, I’m sure that’ll fix it. Good luck.

  • Pavel

    To Teach and Dad: BRAVO!!

  • ESTP

    Lousy parenting = poorly educated children.
    Poorly educated children growing up to be lousy parents = more poorly
    educated children. It’s a never ending cycle and a problem that neither money nor test results will ever be able to solve or fix.

    • Real Madrid

      Agreed. All the more reason to raise taxes to pay for welfare. That way the only thing they’ll learn is that Big Gobernment (meant to spell it that way) will take care of them, enticing them to have more uneducated children so they can get more entitlements thus growing the democratic voter base.

  • yep

    Why not just wait for the report instead of having an article telling us about it?

  • Mumstheword

    You can throw money, come up with all new and cool ideas, create new programs and it isn’t going to solve the problem. Why? Because you can’t teach kids who aren’t willing to learn or who couldn’t care less about getting an education. Public schools nowadays are just large daycare centers. The other posters hit the nail on the head, the problem isn’t the programs, teachers, etc for the most part; the problem starts at home.

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