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.