Most county schools are above average on state testsCarlton County schools generally performed better than the state average in recent Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing in math and reading.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Carlton County schools generally performed better than the state average in recent Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing in math and reading.
The Minnesota Department of Education released performance data Tuesday from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment, given last spring.
Statewide, 62 percent of Minnesota students taking the test met state standards in math and 58 percent of students were proficient in reading.
Unusually, reading scores at many schools in the area, including some that tend to do well, decreased. That’s because the test was made more difficult to align with new, college and career-ready standards, and in many cases, such as in most grades that test in Duluth, was given online. It’s considered starting over for districts and makes comparisons to past years unreliable. It gives schools this year’s reading scores as a new baseline, said Tawnyea Lake, director of assessments, evaluation and performance for the Duluth district.
“Every time the test changes we are starting over with data,” she said, adding that this happened with math in the past. “We are looking at higher standards and a brand-new way of testing.”
Although the more difficult reading test drove scores down statewide, Esko’s schools paced Carlton County in 2013 as they did in 2012. A total of 79 percent of Esko students taking the test were proficient in math, with 69 percent proficient in reading.
Cloquet (67 percent proficient in math, 61 percent in reading), Cromwell-Wright (63/58) and Moose Lake (63/60) were other Carlton County school districts to meet or exceed state averages in both areas.
A good comparison, said state education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, would be between algebra I and calculus.
“You are learning new material; passages are much more complex,” she said, than the previous, more basic test material. “It looks like a dip, but it’s really not.”
Many Minnesota students who took the reading test online also experienced glitches, with computers shutting down mid-test and taking long durations to load. School officials said the conditions were less than ideal for test takers learning the new system.
Minnesota students in third through eighth grades take the MCA tests in reading and math. In addition, high school sophomores take a reading test and high school juniors take a math test. Proficiency on these tests has no effect on grade advancement.
Private schools can choose whether or not to test their students and are not required to report scores.
Forum News Service reporter Jana Hollingsworth contributed to this story.
Carlton County MCA results
(Source: Minnesota Department of Education)
STATE AVERAGE 62 58
Esko 79 69
Cloquet 67 61
Moose Lake 63 60
Cromwell-Wright 63 58
Carlton 55 60
Barnum 55 57
Wrenshall 48 52