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New report highlights student performance, areas to improve in Minnesota schools

Updated: September 03, 2019 04:05 PM

The Minnesota Department of Education has released a first-of-its-kind report on the state's schools just in time for the start of the new school year.

"The State of our Students" report offers an in-depth look at students' performance and how the state can help schools try to close the achievement gap by taking data from several sources, including the North Star accountability system and the Minnesota Student Survey, and compiling it into one report.

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The report noted that high school graduation rates in Minnesota continue to climb, with more than 83 percent of students graduating in four years in 2018, up about half of one percentage point from the previous year.

The report also said the average ACT score for Minnesota students in 2018 was 21.3, which is higher than the national average (20.8) and highest among the 19 states with at least 89 percent of the graduating class taking the test.

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However, it also states that math scores also dropped nearly 4 percent, and says the state is making little or no progress in closing several achievement gaps between student groups.

In 2018, the average math scores of Black and Hispanic students were nearly 34 percent lower than those of White students, which is almost the same as the year before.

"Improving attendance improves academic outcomes, so how do we look at this data together and get smarter about the decisions we make using data to better meet the needs of our students?" said Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. "That's how I think we'll start seeing those gaps close"

Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls), the Republican Lead on the House Education Finance Division, issued the following statement regarding the report:

"I know how hard our teachers work each day to provide a great education to Minnesota students. However, this sobering report is further evidence that the policies we have need review and improvement," Kresha said. "Since 2011, Democrats and the teacher's union have blocked nearly every education reform that would improve academic success and close the persistent achievement gaps. We need policies that put students first, empower parents to make the best education choices for their child, and focus our resources om lifting up our most at-risk young learners."

"It's time for Governor Walz and Democrats to stand up to the special interests that stand in the way of opportunities for our kids. We need to pass our opportunity scholarship bill next session, and dramatically rethink our education priorities so we can ensure a great education for students in every corner of Minnesota," Kresha concluded.

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