Most area schools have strong showing in state science testing

The results of the 2010 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II (MC-II) science tests are in, and schools in Carlton County exhibited a wide range of test scores.

The results of the 2010 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II (MC-II) science tests are in, and schools in Carlton County exhibited a wide range of test scores.

The MC-II measures the proficiency of students in grades five and eight and at the high school level. This was the third year the science part of the test has been administered.

Unlike math and reading MCA-II test scores, however, the science test is not used to measure school districts' adequate yearly progress (AYP). The scores are instead meant to give districts more information to improve learning in an increasingly important subject area, according to Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Alice Seagren.

Statewide, this year's MCA-II science tests show steady improvement over last year's results. The overall percentage of students proficient on the assessment increased from 1 to 5 percentage points over last year in most districts.

"Minnesota's focus on rigorous science education is showing steady gains in student achievement," Seagren said. "These are encouraging gains for minority students in eighth grade and high school students. Yet, we must continue our efforts to prepare all Minnesota students for success after high school."


This spring, a total of some 178,500 students in grades 5, 8 and high school took the test to determine how they measure up with state standards. The science standards define what students should know and be able to do in a particular grade and are developed in partnership with Minnesota educators. Each student earns a score in one of four achievement levels: Does Not Meet Standards, Partially Meets Standards, Meets the Standards or Exceeds the Standards. Students who meet or exceed standards are proficient. The Science MCA-II is interactive and allows students to investigate science phenomena online.

In Carlton County, Esko students scored well above the state average at all three levels: 73.2 percent were proficient at the high school level, 54.3 at the eighth- grade level and 61.3 at the fifth-grade level. Superintendent Aaron Fischer said that after the tests came back the first year, school officials targeted areas to improve its science curriculum.

"They did a marvelous job of aligning those," Fischer said. "There is no doubt that when departments sit down together and use data and are committed to excellence, they come up with good results."

Also demonstrating above-average testing results was Cloquet, with 71.8 percent of students who tested at the high school level meeting or exceeding standards. Eighth-graders at Cloquet Middle School scored 51.8 percent proficiency. Churchill Elementary fifth-graders had 42.3 percent proficiency, and Washington Elementary fifth-graders came in with 32.9 percent.

In Barnum, 64.1 percent of students tested showed proficiency in the science testing, with 43.2 percent of elementary students meeting the standard as well as 39.3 percent of eighth-graders.

Moose Lake students tested 63.4 percent proficient at the high school level, while 40 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded standards and 42 percent of eighth-graders did as well.

Carlton High School students scored close to the state average at 50 percent of students demonstrating proficiency in science standards testing. Eighth-graders in the district were also at the state average with 47.8 percent of students showing proficiency, and Carlton fifth-graders came in at 34.8 percent.

Wrenshall tallied 38.1 percent proficiency at the fifth-grade level, 39.4 at the eighth-grade level and 47.1 percent at the high school level.


Cromwell-Wright demonstrated 33.3 percent proficiency at both the fifth- and seventh-grade levels and 30.4 percent proficiency at the high school level.

Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News-Tribune contributed to this story.

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