MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota students showed some progress in reading on the state’s standardized tests and 11th graders did even better on the math portion, but over half still weren’t considered proficient, the Minnesota Department of Education reported Wednesday.

The department reported that 74 percent of Minnesota students scored as proficient in reading on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments last spring, an increase of 1.6 percent from the previous year. The biggest gains were in grades five through seven, where minority students showed more improvement on average than their white counterparts.

The number of 11th graders who scored as proficient in math increased 5.3 percent from the previous year to 48.6 percent. However, the state’s academic achievement gap between white students and racial minorities remained. For example, 16 percent of black 11th graders made the grade while 55 percent of white juniors did.

It was difficult to calculate an overall math score for the state because students in grades three through eight took a test based on tough new standards for the first time. Those standards, which include the expectation that eighth-graders be proficient in algebra, were announced in 2007 and assessed for the first time this spring.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said that while the improvement in reading scores was welcome, it was lower than she had hoped.

“I wanted to see double-digit numbers,” she said.

She was more excited about the gain in math proficiency among 11th graders, although she said she was still disappointed that more than half of the state’s high school juniors missed the benchmark for proficiency.

“There is a gap between what we expect and what kids know, that is the gap that needs to be minded,” she said.

She was also disappointed that minority students didn’t show more gains.

In the previous nine years, the scores on the MCA tests were used to determine if Minnesota schools faced sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which required that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

However, this year Cassellius has requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would prevent more schools from being labeled as failures and relax sanctions on schools that have already run afoul of the law.

“It just really important to impress that even as we are doing our NCLB waiver that we are still holding all districts accountable for educating all kids,” she said. “We want all kids to have an opportunity to excel.”

Kent Pekel, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium at the University of Minnesota, chalked up the increase in the 11th-grade math scores to a combination of factors, including students realizing they need more math courses to get into college and the payoff from another overhaul of the math standards made a decade ago.

“I think this just shows the urgent need for Minnesotans to take a long-term approach to education improvement,” he said.

Pekel said the small increase in reading was part of a national trend, as many other states have struggled to significantly improve reading scores. He called it one of the mysteries of American education.

“Generally speaking, we really are at a point where we not making the progress we need in reading,” he said. “That’s despite big increases in literacy spending at many levels.”

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

Comments (19)
  1. Dale Gribble says:

    It’s been proven time and again that any increase in test scores is due to cheating by the teachers. It’s time to declare public education the failure that it is and defund it entirely.

    1. G Dog says:

      With one comment, Dale wins the Moronic Post award.


      1. Dale Gribble says:

        Call it supid, if you want to continue to be a stooge of the DFL and the Teachers Unions. I fail to see ANY reason why my tax dollars should go to pay for a completely failed system. We need to end public education and all other socialist giveaway programs in this state.

        1. Irv says:

          Your tax dollars go there because we have a constitution that says ALL children have a right to a free and equal education. It does not say just the wealthy children who can afford private education, it says ALL children. Including you Dale. Where did you get your education?

          1. bob says:

            Hey Irv, send me some money. Don’t bother to ask why I need it, or what I will use it for, or if I will perform a good service, just send me money.
            Thanks Irv, keep your head in the sand and don’t try to change anything.

          2. Dale Gribble says:

            I’m familiar with the US Constitution, Irv. While I am aware of the dubious merits of the 14th Amendment and “equal protection”, I’m not familiar with the portion which mandates that free education. Perhaps you’d care to cite the appropriate portion for my edification?

        2. G Dog says:

          Because it’s all about you, Dale!! It’s not about the country…not about posterity..not about the vision of the Founding Fathers..not about your neighbors…it’s you that’s important

          1. Dale Gribble says:

            Yes, it is. I’m not a collectivist like the DFL Socialist traitors. I am a free man, an individual, and I AM more important than the state. Maybe in your totalitarian fantasies the individual serves the state, but in our Repubilc, the state is supposed to serve the individual. I’m pretty sure the FFs felt the same way.

  2. NeedImprovement says:

    Kent said ““I think this just shows the urgent need for Minnesotans to take a long-term approach to education improvement,” he said.”

    Yes, because the parents and school board cannot fire the underperforming, bloated, tenured teachers and put in competent teachers.

    We will need many years to get rid of these teachers with the rule of 90 the Unions have.

  3. tom says:

    In the past two years, the schoold have had to increase class sizes, reduce budgets, let teachers go.

    And guess what???? Test scores have gone up. Huh, I guess the problem is not what the teachers union has been spouting, but the actual commitment of the teachers. When they see their peers being let go, they teach harder.

    1. G Dog says:

      Test scores go up because teachers teach to the test which is what the politicians are paying for them to do. If they wanted every student to juggle, there’d a heck of a lot more young jugglers in the state.

      Critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are much more difficult to measure – that’s what true teachers want to do, but the politicians won’t let them because they don’t understand how education is supposed to work – only their own narrow view.

  4. Karen says:

    Still waiting for Dale to tell us where he received his education. Did this “failed system” fail you too Dale?

    1. Dale Gribble says:

      I got my public educatino before the NEA and othe liberal terrorist groups took over. And even then it stunk of socialism.

  5. Karen says:

    I would bet Dale hasn’t stepped foot in a public education classroom to fully understand what goes on since the day when the system OBVIOUSLY failed him. That’s sarcasm, in case you missed it Dale.

  6. Pam says:

    There’s too many black and mexican kids flooding public schools now that don’t care about learning or getting a good education. They keep the rest of the students from reaching their full potential. I’m a teacher, I see this first hand.

    1. Dale Gribble says:

      With Rick Perry in office, we can push for segregation and allow those White Christian children the chance to learn that they deserve!

    2. Hello! says:

      I really hope my child never has you as there teacher! I teach my children to never judge a book by its cover, maybe you should learn that as well. Did you know that the majority of women in the Shakopee Women’s Correctional facility are white?? 59% to be exact.

  7. Parent says:

    Public education system is a JOKE. Sure, there are some well qualified, passionate, result oriented teachers in the system, but there are also sO many lazy and plain dumb ones which prevent our kids from reaching their full potentials. These so called teachers would not last 2 days in a private section, but yet they remain teaching our kids while being protected by unions. Why not evaluate their performance like it is done in the private sector? Bottom 10% got to go! Top 10% get a raise or some sort of incentive pay. Instead keep that dead weight and continue to waste our money. I

  8. G Dog says:

    Some parents are a JOKE.

    Teachers are supposed to repair the damage of bad parenting? Angry divorces? Chemical abuse? Child abuse? Domestic violence? Poor role models? Sexual abuse? Neglect?

    You can’t be that stupid and still be able to post on a webpage.