Local schools score low on Minnesota Basic Standards Test

Robyn Repya

Standardized test scores in math and reading are down among Minneapolis students, according to a report released Wednesday.

Only 42 percent of Minneapolis 8th-graders passed the Minnesota Basic Standards Test in math this year, and only 51 percent passed the reading test.

Melissa Winter, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis Public Schools, said students are more likely to pass the standardized tests if they regularly attend school.

According to the report, 53 percent of students had an acceptable record of school attendance.

Winter said lower attendance rates correlate with the life situations of students. Of the district’s 50,000 students, she said, more than 3,000 are homeless.

Winter partially blamed the sub-par test scores on a lack of state support.

“The majority of our funding comes from the state. … This past budget year was a considerable blow to our district,” she said.

Winter said the district had to cut funding for magnet programs, special programs that help low-income students.

She said teachers are also an issue because in Minneapolis the composition of the teaching pool does not reflect the cultures of the students.

“We are working on hiring and retaining teachers of color,” Winter said.

Colleen Moriarty, chief of staff for Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, said the mayor is not disappointed by these new numbers. Moriarty said Sayles Belton is concentrating efforts on the reading success of
students in kindergarten through third grade.

Moriarty said the report is valuable because it provides this information to the public, who she says has been helpful.

Three community referendums have boosted the district’s operating budget by $42 million, which Moriarty said ensures smaller class sizes and better training for teachers.

Moriarty said the report and standardized tests are also useful because they expose unprepared students who shouldn’t move on to high school.

“We think the whole project is great,” she said.