Fridley MCA test scores trail behind statewide averages

Fridley’s MCA standardized test results came back, showing District 14 trailing the statewide averages in all grades for reading and most grades for math.

Grades tested for reading skills included 3-8 and 10, and those tested for math skills included 3-8 and 11. The MCA II math test was given in 2009 and 2010, and a new MCA III math test was given in 2011 and 2012.

Imina Oftedahl, the director of Educational Services for the district, said she saw in the scores a general continued growth trend in the reading and math scores, with some dips along the way due to specific cohorts’ test results being lower than others.

MCA II – Reading

Other groups, meanwhile, have made significant progress, she said. For example, the district has had a reading intervention program at the middle school for the past two years.

“So the numbers are starting to show an impact in that area,” Oftedahl told the Fridley School Board at its Aug. 21 meeting.

Fridley's scores in the MCA reading exams trail the statewide averages. (Image courtesy of the Fridley Public School District 14)

Fridley’s scores in the MCA reading exams trail the statewide averages. (Image courtesy of the Fridley Public School District 14)

Of the reading scores, she said, the gap is closing between Fridley’s scores and the state averages, but there is still more work to be done to catch up. A K-5 literacy plan is expanding to grades 6-12, bringing into that the pre-kindergarten, so the plan extends pre-k through grade 12. The district will be aligning the plan with the Minnesota Department of Education’s standards.

“We are so excited to have the Reading Corps of Minnesota provide us with these Reading Corps tutors,” Oftedahl told the Board. “We are ready to welcome them in and get them set up and give them lots of support. It’s going to be an excellent addition to the intervention efforts with those kids. It will give these tutors a chance to focus on those students who continue to struggle, but who will be able to reach that level (of performance) and become independent readers.”

MCA II, III – Math

Regarding math scores, Oftedahl pointed out that some results are quite close to the state average’s scores, and the 8th grade scores slightly exceeded the state averages.

Both the state averages and the Fridley School District results share the same trend in math.

Fridley's scores in the MCA math exams, like the statewide averages, decrease into the higher grades in this year's testing. (Image courtesy of the Fridley Public School District 14)

Fridley’s scores in the MCA math exams, like the statewide averages, decrease into the higher grades in this year’s testing. (Image courtesy of the Fridley Public School District 14)

Looking at the Fridley numbers, scores are higher in the lower grades, such as scores of 72 percent (75 percent for statewide) proficiency in third grade, 69 percent (73 percent for statewide) in fourth grade. But the scores decline into the higher grades, such as 46 percent (57 percent for statewide) in seventh grade and 38 percent (41 percent for statewide) in 11th grade.

“Is the Department of Education out of sync with what’s being taught curriculum-wise? Because I don’t know that we are that far behind anybody; I think that the IB curriculum is rigorous enough so that we should be among the very best,” Board member Gordon Backlund said.

Oftedahl said she believes the state standards and the way the tests have been developed ask for “something far beyond what we have been expecting traditionally.”

The standards are set higher, as for the student who is going on to take college-level math, she said. The district hasn’t always held all students to these standards, Oftedahl said, but now all students – regardless of post-secondary plans – are supposed to meet the MCA test expectations.

Supt. Peggy Flathmann said, regarding the drop-off in 11th grade test scores, the district would have to figure out what is happening to cause that trend and what teachers can do to bring those test scores up.

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