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MCA results mixed in region

WORTHINGTON -- The annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) test results, released this week, show trends that vary from worrying to exciting for school districts in southwest Minnesota.

WORTHINGTON - The annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) test results, released this week, show trends that vary from worrying to exciting for school districts in southwest Minnesota.

In Worthington, students declined in math and reading proficiency by more than 3 percent, and 2.5 percent in science.

The numbers mostly take a dip from an increased number of students that are still learning the English language, which make up more than one fourth of students tested. Of the school’s 471 English learners taking reading tests - up from 399 last year - 15 percent were proficient.

“That’s a challenge for our district - we have a large number of students where English is their second language,” said Worthington Public School District Superintendent John Landgaard. “When you’re taking a test that’s in English and you don’t have a command of the language, it does create a difficulty for those kids - it’s just logical.”

Nearly every student takes the assessment test, whether they speak English or not, unless their parents decide to opt out. With that said, the district’s white population scored lower than the demographic’s state average in all three categories, with math scores decreasing by more than 10 points in the last five years.

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Also in Nobles County, Adrian Public Schools saw gains in all of its test scores year over year. Math scores rose to 60 percent from 57, reading rose to 60 percent from 50 and science rose from 49 to 65.

“Every year our focus is creating the best educational opportunity for our kids K-12,” said Adrian High School Principal Cate Koehne “So, we’re reviewing things that will make not just test scores, but overall learning better for kids.”

Adrian’s results for 2017 very much mirror the state’s numbers in reading (60 percent) and math (59 percent), and far exceed the statewide science average of 54 percent.

Murray County Central (MCC) led the region with the highest scores in math (71 percent) and reading (72 percent). The school has seen a 10-percent increase in math and an eight-point increase in reading since new testing was implemented in 2013.

MCC Superintendent Joe Meyer said the district puts a focus on meeting and exceeding standards, posting goals for all students to see throughout the year.

“Each year we assess areas of need that we want to focus on set those goals based on our previous year’s MCA data, then we focus on those goals throughout the year,” Meyer said. “I think our staff is focused on trying to achieve those goals, then they pass that on to the students.

Though statistical deviations and other factors can disrupt MCA trends, test scores are very much on the minds of educators and school administrators as tools to analyze their school district’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Is it the be-all end-all of seeing what we might need to change? No, because there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Landgaard said. “But that data does play a role in we look at what we’re doing as a school system, in looking at student success and potential changes in our curriculum.”

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Full results can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education website.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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