Student performance continues to drop

Despite falling test scores, Education Commissioner Ricker declares, ‘The state of our students is promising.’

New data from the state’s Department of Education paint a sobering picture of Minnesota’s failing efforts to find academic achievement.

The department’s “first-of-its-kind” State of Our Students report shows student math scores have dropped for the fifth consecutive year and reading scores have dipped as well. In addition, state educators have made little progress to close Minnesota’s persistent achievement gaps. Sixty-three percent of white students met math proficiency standards compared to 26 percent of black and American Indian students.

But according to Minnesota’s Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, “The state of our students is promising”—a response that the Star Tribune’s Patrick Coolican (author of the Morning Hot Dish blog) said “sounded more like the labor leader she once was than a school leader.”

Coolican also called out the state’s history of dumping money into education with very little to show for it. “When do Minnesotans begin to wonder,” he wrote, “Where are the results?”

Minnesota’s achievement gaps remain among the widest in the nation despite the state sending schools millions of dollars to bridge the gaps. A Star Tribune analysis found that more than $5 billion has been spent over the last decade to improve the academic performance of poor performing students.

Perhaps it is time to think less about spending and more about reforming education.