MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Disappointing numbers were released Thursday, showing the achievement gap between white students and students of color in Minnesota remains far apart.
The Department of Education released results from the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, and it shows virtually no progress in raising reading and math scores.
It is the third-straight year of stagnation, and education commissioner Brenda Cassellius expressed her disappointment.
“We’re all wondering why we can’t we get at this disparity,” Cassellius said.
Related: Explore the Minnesota Report Card
Though disappointed in the most recent MCA scores, the commissioner says it also reflects more rigorous testing that has now aligned to college entrance.
“Teachers need better resources, better curriculum development, professional development, so they understand the very complex and different standards than they taught 20 years ago,” Cassellius said.
While statewide reading proficiency scores were up slightly, the math proficiency scores decreased a point, down to 61 percent.
But the failure to close the wide achievement gap that exists between white students and students of color continues to be the most-disappointing element.
Commissioner Cassellius has a goal to trim the learning gap in half by 2017. With the latest results, that now appears to be a long shot, at best.
The latest results show that gap between white and black students essentially unchanged. Seventy percent of white students are proficient in both subjects, compared to 32 percent of all black students.
Middle school educator Mark Westpfahl believes the state is now placing too much emphasis on comparative testing, at the cost of more meaningful teaching.
“What is the actual purpose of this test? What’s it measuring?” Westpfahl said. “You’re getting into the mode of always getting ready for another test rather than learning the skills necessary to achieve.”
Still, one thing is abundantly clear: schools cannot close the achievement gap alone.
That, many agree, will take a wider effort, beginning earlier and at home.
For a look at the complete testing results, click here.