Minnesota educators: MCA scores provide 'little useful information'

- The Minnesota Department of Education released scores for the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) on Thursday. Following the report, Education Minnesota released a statement that the scores provide "little useful information for parents, educators."

Education Minnesota is an organization that includes teachers and professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts and universities.

Education Minnesota Statement

"It is always frustrating to see how little useful data we get for all the time and taxpayer money spent on standardized tests," Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said.

"The MCA results arrive too late to help any individual teacher or student, and we still don't know what the aggregated data actually measure. Are we quantifying a mismatch between what was taught and tested? Did the school buy the right test prep materials? Are we testing what the students learned, or just the students' skill at taking tests? Is it the quality of the learning environments, or the support the students receive at home? Could it be how much parents read to their kids? Luck? How many students were hungry, homeless or sick on testing days? Without that context, the MCA scores are numbers without much real meaning."

Specht continued, "There are so many things parents should know about their children's education that they can't learn from just an MCA score. Parents should be able to see the test questions and check for bias. They should know if technical issues affected their child's score. They should receive a comprehensive report on their child's correct and incorrect answers, so parents can tutor their children over the summer. Parents should even know how much time their child spent on lessons in test taking, so parents can make their own judgements about whether the test results are worth the lost learning time. Until parents receive that information, the best way for them to track the progress of their children is easy – ask their teachers."

2016 MCA scores 'slow pace of progress'

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, when looking at all grades, reading scores increased slightly, math scores declined slightly, and science scores increased in 2016. The results over time show that "while scores have slowly increased, achievement gaps between white students and students of color persist," the department stated.

Commissioner Brenda Casseulius said it's "disappointing to see the slow pace of progress. But those of us who do this work every day remain undeterred in our goal, which is to guarantee an excellent and equitable education for every Minnesota student."

MCA results can be found on the Minnesota Report Card.

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