MN School Test Scores Continue to Decline


Boy_studies_math.jpgLess than half of Minnesota students know how to read at grade level.

The Pandemic dropped scores by 8%, a huge drop (from 59% reading at grade level in 2019 to 51% in 2022) but Minnesota scores have been declining for longer than that.

Math proficiency at grade level is even worse (54% in 2019 to 44% now).

Think about that: Less than half of our students can read and do simple math at the level required to graduate.

“These statewide assessment results reinforce what we already know – our students, families, school communities and educators need us to continue to meet this moment,” Heather Mueller, state education commissioner, said in a statement.

What “meet this moment” means isn’t clearly explained.

What is clear, to me, is that the same institutional structure – Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), our districts and the teachers’ unions – is the same one that was responsible for our students’ failures during this long period of steady decline in performance. It is a fact that these institutions cannot “continue to meet this moment” because the numbers tell us they have been failing to “meet this moment” for years.

Minnesota’s educational complex created something called COMPASS to correct the problem. According to its website, COMPASS “..will offer support for schools in the areas of Literacy, Math and School Climate and Mental Health…”. It appears that half the help COMPASS offers is for “school climate and mental health”. According to the website, “intentional school climate improvement practices increase students (sic) sense of safety, build pro-social skills, develop a respect for diversity, increase social support, and create positive connections and engagement in school. At its core, school climate is about healthy, positive and connected relationships.”

How diversity, social support and pro-social skills will improve math and reading scores is not explained in the website.


And we note the typographical error of the missed possessive apostrophe after “students”.

The MDE also promotes "social emotional learning" (SEL) as critical to our students.  MDE’s SEL implementation guidance offers “…grade-level, benchmarked competencies and guidance from Great Lakes Equity Center.” The Great Lakes Equity Center says, on its front page, that it provides “ three-tiers of technical assistance related to race, sex, national origin, and religion desegregation to K-12 public education agencies…”

Note that the correct way of writing ‘three tiers’ is, well "three tiers” - not “three-tiers”. The correct English is “religiOUS desegregation”, not “religION desegregation”.

How “technical” assistance about race, sex, national origin and religion desegregation is relevant to improving long-declining reading and math scores is not explained.

Our struggling students desperately need a system that will teach them reading, writing and arithmetic. If the Education Complex is seriously worried about minority students it might want to focus on these basics because the test scores show that minorities (Asian students excepted) fare far worse than their white counterparts.