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Education: MCA results stay flat from last year

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments results released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Education show little change from last year. Test scores may not be rising much, but they are only one way to measure student progress, said state Educ...

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments results released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Education show little change from last year.

Test scores may not be rising much, but they are only one way to measure student progress, said state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in a news release.

"Test scores are just one part of the picture to understand how students are doing in Minnesota," Cassellius said in a news release. "It's frustrating to see test scores slowly increasing over time, but there's more to providing a student with a well-rounded education than can be seen in a test."

In Brainerd Public Schools, math and science scores are up slightly over last year, while reading scores are flat. Tim Murtha, director of teaching and learning for the district, said his reaction to the results was mixed. The biggest positive for him was the absence of a decline in elementary reading scores after the first year of a new kindergarten-fourth grade literacy curriculum.

"That was something that we were watching carefully," Murtha said. "Our scores are relatively flat, so previous gains that we had made, we sustained."

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Instead of looking at the district's overall scores, Murtha said he prefers to look at site-specific or grade level-specific scores. For example, Brainerd High School science proficiency is on a five-year positive upward trend, he said, and Baxter Elementary School third-graders showed a five-point increase in reading proficiency.

The district's overall scores are an aggregation of small actions teachers make to improve instruction in the classroom, Murtha said. District officials don't pressure teachers about MCA scores, he said, because if teachers keep focusing on student growth, positive scores will happen.

"If I've got kids with multiple years of high growth, MCA will take care of itself, no problem," Murtha said.

No district can produce and sustain stunning growth numbers year after year, Murtha said, which is why the district prefers to focus on sustainable growth over the long term. Sustainable growth is a byproduct of focusing on daily decisions to improve instruction and assessment practices, he said.

For the assessments, students take tests on math, reading and science. Statewide in 2017, students scored a 59 percent in reading proficiency out of 100 percent, down one point from 2016. For math, students scored a 59 in proficiency, down two points from last year. In science, students scored a 54 in proficiency, down one point from 2016.

Information on individual school MCA scores may be found at rc.education.state.mn.us, the Minnesota Department of Education's online report card system.

INFOBOX

Brainerd Public Schools

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• Math-67.1

• Reading-67.6

• Science-68.4

Crosby-Ironton Public Schools

• Math-54.8

• Reading-61.7

• Science-62.7

Pequot Lakes Public Schools

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• Math-67

• Reading-70.7

• Science-68.9

Staples-Motley School District

• Math-47.4

• Reading-54.6

• Science-46.6

Little Falls Community Schools

• Math-50.3

• Reading-51.2

• Science-47.1

Pillager School District

• Math-55.9

• Reading-58.9

• Science-55.9

-- Scores reflect the percentage of students who met or exceeded the standard out of 100 percent for proficiency trends in 2017.

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