District 518 shows improvementWORTHINGTON — Science MCA-II (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment – Series II) assessment results released today by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) showed strong improvement over last year’s results on the state level, though some schools in southwest Minnesota still fall below the state average.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Science MCA-II (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment – Series II) assessment results released today by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) showed strong improvement over last year’s results on the state level, though some schools in southwest Minnesota still fall below the state average.
In 17 area districts, scores ranged from 63 percent of students considered proficient in the Jackson County Central district to 28.87 percent proficient in District 518 ( Worthington ).
“This is up just slightly from last year,” said Tammy Timko, District 518’s coordinator of teaching and learning, explaining the score was 28.75 percent in 2008. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Timko said the district’s eighth-graders performed best, achieving about 32 percent proficiency.
She also said the state average of 46 percent proficiency “might lead some people to believe that Minnesota schools are failing in the area of science, however, the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies) assessment … tells a completely different story,” she said. “The 2007 results … put the United States lagging behind many other countries, but Minnesota held really strong. At the fourth-grade level Minnesota was outperformed only by Korea in science,” Timko added.
“The standards are so high it makes it look like we’re failing our students, when on an international basis Minnesota is doing very well.”
As for District 518, educators will work during the summer to analyze the test results by strand, and identify areas for improvement.
“At the elementary level this next year we are going to have someone on a part-time basis be a science specialist,” Timko explained. “They will be working on some integrating technology into science for grades three, four and five.” That person’s duties could include leading virtual experiments or charting data from classroom experiments.
The district’s third- and sixth-grade teachers will also participate in a science workshop presented by MDE on Aug. 4. Any educators from area districts interested in attending may contact Timko at 360-5454.
Statewide in 2009, fifth-grade scores improved by nearly six percentage points over last year, eighth-grade scores increased by about four percentage points, and high school scores improved by about seven percentage points. Overall, 46.1 percent of Minnesota students were considered proficient in science, up from 40.4 percent in 2008.
“These results show that a strong focus on rigorous science education is paying off,” Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren said in a news release. “While there is much work to be done, Minnesota ’s students and educators can be proud of this strong step forward.”
This spring, about 181,600 students in grades 5, 8 and high school took the Science MCA-II, which measures student performance on Minnesota ’s academic standards.
The science standards define what students should know and be able to do in a particular grade, but are not currently used to determine whether a school has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward the academic proficiency of all its students (a component of the federal No Child Left Behind Act).
For full results, including a breakdown by grade level, visit the Minnesota Department of Education’s Web site at education.state.mn.us.