U study finds minority, low-income students lag on basic skills tests

Minority students, students with limited English proficiency and low-income students are more likely to score lower in Minnesota’s basic skills tests, according to a recent University study conducted by educational psychology professor Ernest Davenport.

The six-year study, which analyzed Minnesota students’ test results, revealed discrepancies between the test results in certain groups of students.

The basic skills tests, which are required by most high schools for graduation, is given to all eighth graders and is meant to hold the education system accountable for student performance throughout middle school and high school.

The study showed minority students scored lower than other students on reading and mathematics tests.

The study also found students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches scored lower on the tests.

Female students scored higher than males on the reading tests, while males scored higher than females on the mathematics tests. But the gap between male and female mathematics results is closing, Davenport said.

The study also found overall reading results had improved over the past several years but reached a plateau in 2000, he said.

The test results were not
surprising, Davenport said.

“Almost every study that looks at education discrepancies finds these exact same results,” he said. “The only difference is the degree of the results.”

While Davenport said the report’s purpose is “to create conversation,” he said the Minnesota school system needs to decide what actions must be taken to improve education.

– Amy Costello