Evaluating students not just on their test scores

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(ABC 6 News) – A recent report released from the Minnesota Department of Education shows student test scores in core subjects falling to alarming levels.

Just 45 percent of students who were tested scored proficient in math and 51 percent were on track with reading. Education leaders say the results prove the pandemic has had an impact on how our students are learning. Test scores throughout our area varied by district – but all showed areas where students are falling behind.

The superintendent of Albert Lea Public Schools says it’s important to focus on students at an individual level. Especially for districts with students that are still learning English. He says tests like the MCA’s put those students at a disadvantage.

“It’s a English language test. If students come in that are English as a second language, they are taking a test in potential different language, even if they are new to the country. So, how are we showing where the students enter? How are we monitoring their progress and their growth? And that is really where you desegregate the data. You look at the individual student grow,” said Superintendent Ron Wager.

MCA results varied throughout the district, including at the four elementary schools. At Halverson Elementary, more than 75 percent of students met or exceeded state science standards, but not even 42 percent at Sibley Elementary. At Lakeview Elementary, 60 percent of students met or exceeded math standards, but only 39 percent at Hawthorne Elementary. Overall, the district sees room for improvement.

Staff at Huntington Learning Center says it’s seen an increase in parents turning to them for tutoring. Especially among minorities. “We are definitely seeing an increase in that student population. And I think that’s very true in terms if you look at the data that a lot times comes out it will say that those ell kids will suffer even more,” said Director of Huntington Learning Center Mike Schacherer.

High school scores for Albert Lea were lowest of the district, but the superintendent says not all students take the MCA’s, instead focusing on the ACT. So, results aren’t an accurate depiction of progress.

Overall, the district says students are working their way back to pre-pandemic levels, and teachers are prepared this school year to help them get there. But, it will take some work.