Minnesota education assessment scores still below pre-COVID levels

Statewide education assessments found students' scores are still about 10 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels. 

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released its 2023 North Star Accountability report on Thursday, revealing the results of the 2023 statewide assessment and accountability results. MDE says the assessment results are mixed with a 1% increase in overall math scores, a 1% decrease in reading scores, and a 2% decrease in science scores since the 2022 assessments. 

Meanwhile, scores in each assessment area are about 10 percentage points below their pre-pandemic levels from 2019, MDE said.

"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," said Commissioner Willie Jett in a press release. "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." 

Minnesota's students take statewide reading assessments in grades 3-8 and 10th grade. Of those who took the reading tests, 49.9% met or exceeded grade-level standards, which is 1.2 percentage points lower than 2022. In math, 45.5% of students in grades 3-8 and 11th grade who took the assessment met or exceeded grade-level standards, which is 0.7 percentage points up from 2022. The science assessments are done in grades five and eight and once in high school — 39.3% of students met or exceeded grade-level standards, which is a drop of 2.1 percentage points from 2022. 

English language learners were also assessed, finding 8.6% were proficient in English, a 0.2 percentage point drop from 2022. 

The Department of Education on Thursday also released attendance data for the 2021-22 school year — the first attendance data release since 2019 — finding consistent attendance fell to 69.8% of students who attended at least 90% of the time. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state's consistent attendance rate was about 85%.

"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, Commissioner Jett said. "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."

The results are available in the Minnesota Report Card and MDE’s Data Center.