State report: Less than half of Minnesota students meeting state standards, attendance dropping

A newly released report on student test results shows less than half of Minnesota’s students are meeting or exceeding the standards for their grade and consistent attendance is also dropping, the latest signs that students are struggling following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released the 2023 statewide assessment and accountability results Thursday morning, showing the long road ahead for students to recover and make up for the time lost during the pandemic.

The report includes results from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs), and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Overall, Minnesota students’ scores increased by 1% in math, dropped by 1% in reading and decreased by 2% in science since the 2022 assessments. However, each area’s results remain around 10 percentage points below their pre-pandemic levels.

Additionally, only 49.9% of students who took the reading MCA and MTAS (grades 3-8 and 10) at least met their grade-level standards, a 1.2% drop from last year; 45.5% (grades 3-8 and 11) at least met the standards in math, up 0.7% from last year; 39.2% of students (grades 5, 8 and once in high school) at least met the standards for science, down 2.1% from last year. ACCESS for ELLs proficiency rates also fell to 8.6%, a 0.2% drop from 2022.

Moreover, MDE says attendance data showed only 69.8% of students statewide attended school at least 90% of the time. Before the pandemic, Minnesota’s attendance rate was around 85%.

“These statewide assessment results reinforce what we and other states around the country already know—our students, families, school communities, and educators are continuing to recover from the pandemic and need our support,” MDE Commissioner Willie Jett said in a prepared statement. “This data is important as one part of a broader set of measures that tell us how our students and families are doing and what we need to do in partnership with our school communities to provide support for students to not only recover, but also excel.”

“We will not shy away from what the data are telling us. These results send a renewed sense of urgency and underscore the importance of key supports that are already underway,” he added. “As we enter a new school year, MDE is committed to providing support, through programs such as COMPASS and implementing the READ Act and other new legislation, to help every school in Minnesota as they strive to meet the academic, social-emotional and mental health needs of students.”

Jett and state leaders are expected to discuss the results Thursday morning.

MDE says the data also shows the importance of increased investment in education, something state lawmakers approved this spring. Click here to see the 2022 report.

See results from your school or district by clicking here.