Statewide among students taking the reading test the rate of proficiency, those deemed to meet or exceed the standard based on their test score, dropped to 57.8 percent; why such a dramatic drop?
Since 2009, the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) test results showed the state seemed to be heading in the right direction when it came to the reading standard.
From 2009-12, reading proficiency increased from 71.9 percent to 76 percent statewide.
Then came 2013.
A major drop in proficiency was revealed this past week when the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) made results from the state’s annual assessment tests public.
Statewide among students taking the reading test the rate of proficiency, those deemed to meet or exceed the standard based on their test score, dropped to 57.8 percent.
Why such a dramatic drop?
According to Brenda Cass-ellius, MDE commissioner, the reason is due to the fact the state officially implemented a new set of more rigorous standards for reading, and the new test administered this past school year reflected those new standards. The new test rigor resulted in the low scores, explained Cassellius in a conference call with Minnesota media held this past Monday.
The drop was also revealed in local school scores.
The Redwood Area School District, like most of the state, saw a double digit drop in overall reading scores, with an overall 53.3 percent proficiency rating for its students who took the reading test.
While school district leadership is not at all enthusiastic about the low scores on the reading test, it is taking some consolation in knowing its scores were fairly close to the state average.
According to Darcy Josephson, the RASD director of teaching and learning, the state scores become the barometer by which all schools measure themselves, but she added in the end the goal is to continue to see progress.
Cassellius said one can’t really compare the tests taken in recent years with that of 2013, because it was a completely new test.
She also said the drop was expected across the state.
“Any time a new test based on new standards is given a drop in scores is to be expected,” said Cassellius, “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.”
As time has gone on more of the tests being administered are offered online, but this year an issue with the online testing led MDE to a decision to analyze why those technical difficulties occurred and what kind of impact it may have had on the final results.
Josephson said the local school district did not experience those online issues, but other schools did, including Cedar Mountain.
While Bob Tews, Cedar Mountain superintendent, said making excuses is not the right approach to finding solutions, he did say he believes there were students who were im-pacted by the fact that they had to stop and then start their test over because of the issues.
Those kinds of in-consistencies can and often do play a role in how well or poorly students perform.
Tews said he was disappointed with the results from 2013, adding there were some high expectations going into the testing period last school year.
The district, he said, is already talking about taking a closer look at the scores and implementing even more efforts to help ensure students are getting what they need.
No, he said, the district is not going to change its philosophy and just gear its education programs to one test, because he sees those students who are graduating from Cedar Mountain experiencing success at the next level in their education.
“We do not want all of what we do to be about testing,” he said.
This test is one snapshot in time and is one of many measurements that help to determine the level of progress each individual student is making.
Other tests are also taken during the year, and this week students at RASD are taking the first of three STAR tests that are used to determine where students are in math and reading. The adaptive test taken online can more closely guage where a student is from the beginning of the year to the end with much more immediate results being provided.
“Until every child is achieving at their highest potential we have work to do,” Cassellius said. “We will continue to fuel the sense of urgency to accelerate gains across the board through our Pre-K in-vestments, all-day kindergarten, our focus on third grade literacy, eight grade algebra and improving high school graduation rates.”
More of the results from the assessment tests can be found on the MDE Web site at www.education.state.mn.us. Click on the “Data Center” button on the top right of the page.
School districts are sending out data for families to see how well their child(ren) did on the tests they took this past school year.