Minnesota education: Not up to standards

The Minnesota Department of Education today released the results of math graduation requirement tests taken by high school juniors. “Graduation test scores in Minn. show modest gains,” the headline on our Web site says, but “Hundreds of kids don’t have a prayer of succeeding” might’ve worked, too.

Only 58 percent of 11th graders met the math graduation standard — up 1 percent from a year ago. The primary reason for the low score is the “achievement gap.” Only 23 percent of black students met the math standard. Of course, there’s still more than a year before they’re ushered out the door.

“Minnesota students are better prepared for career and postsecondary education than they were only a few years ago, the Department of Education said in its press release.

“There’s nothing alarming here,” the education commissioner said

Last year, 78 percent of Minnesota 10th graders met the state’s reading graduation requirement on the first try. This year? 78 percent.

“We are seeing improvement in all the categories, but the achievement gap is still so large – for the black students to have a 23 percent graduation rate is just not acceptable.” Education Commissioner Alice Seagren told MPR’s Tom Weber.

If that sounds familiar, that’s the boilerplate response state officials have been giving on days like today for several years. Whatever’s being tried isn’t working.

Last year, a federal report said Minnesota has one of the highest gaps in the country. Some Minnesota experts said the problem isn’t that black students are doing worse, but that white students are doing better.

  • This does not surprise me.

  • MR

    Cue the speeches about “priorities” and “tough choices,” while continuing inaction on anything that might actually help this gap.

  • Minnwhaler

    “Some Minnesota experts said the problem isn’t that black students are doing worse (THAN WHAT), but that white students are doing better.” (SAY WHAT)?

    Seriously what does that mean? poverty gap carries similar numbers, hmmm, do you think there just might be a link? hmmm

    Gee, maybe we should spend millions of dollars to see if poor students perform worse than the richer peers… HELLOOOO, MN, wake up, standards are written by the privaleged and in language often not spoken at home and yes Ebonics and dialects do translate to another language when it comes to learning. How about teaching why this learning thing is important and there is hope… Tough when you go home to a hot, stuffy, over-crowded home, with no tools to help with homework, etc. ok, I’m handing over my podium.. Next?

  • CL

    With all due respect to the earlier poster, Ebonics doesn’t have nearly the effect that the child’s family situation does. I taught private school and saw clearly how vitally important it is to have parents who are invested in their child’s education. That’s also why the Milwaukee school voucher experiments proved that sending inner city students to private schools was NOT a solution to their academic problems.

  • kennedy

    Most of these conversations center on what teachers and the system can do to help kids learn. That leaves out major contibutors to success, family and society. Kids will live up or down to the expectations of their family, friends, and neighbors. Allowing any group an excuse for failure is prejudice.

    Many recent immigrants are poor, yet their children are succeeeding. Why?

  • Lily

    Which recent immigrants are succeding? I would like to see the facts. There are anecdotal reports of some success, but overall socioeconomic status (education, occupation, and income) are the key determinants of school success and parent/child success. That has not changed in generations.

    No Child Left Behind is simply another form on institutionalized racism in our educational system. It has created a system where fewer poor and minority students will ever get a highs school diploma. That has nothing to do with their parents and everything to do a racist, classist society.

    MN Whaler Rocks!!!!!!!!

  • Bruce

    Alice Seagren how do you explain this????

    Minnesota used to be the Minnesota Miracle. Under Uncle Tim things have turned into a disaster. I am sooooooo tired of hearing about test scores when things are only getting worse in our schools. Remember….there are children in our schools!!! Let’s teach, not test.

  • kennedy


    Here is one example that challenges a direct link between economics and academic achievement. Students of asian ethnicity have the highest average math scores when compared to peers with the same family incomes. In fact, this group has the highest average math scores regardless of income.

    I agree that society is a major influence. However, the society with the most significant influence is the one in which the child participates. Blaming families in the suburbs for poor achievement of students in the city is a stretch. Instead I encourage everyone directly involved in a childs life to promote learning. Teachers, of course. But also family and neighbors.