From classroom trends to school board decisions, Class Act will keep you updated on all the school issues followed by the Star Tribune’s education reporters. Contributors include Alejandra Matos, who covers Minneapolis; Kim McGuire, who covers the west metro; Erin Adler, who covers the south metro; Anthony Lonetree and Libor Jany, who cover St. Paul and the east metro, and Shannon Prather, who cover the north metro.

Science scores up for all learners, MCA scores show

Posted by: Kim McGuire Updated: August 27, 2013 - 3:27 PM

At first glance, Minnesota students posted pretty dismal results on the Minnesota Comprehenvise Assessments, the results of which were released to the public today.

Math was down a little. Reading was down a lot as the result of a tougher, new test. And minority students didn't post the kind of gains to start to reverse the state's stubborn achievement gap.

But there was one notable exception that warrants mentioning - science.

All Minnesota students taking the science exam posted gains. Those students include every minority group, students who receive free and reduced price lunches, students learning English, and students enrolled in special education.

Statewide, 60 percent of fifth graders were proficient in science, 44 percent of eighth graders and 53 percent of all high school students taking the science exam. On average, those numbers refect a one to two point increase compared to the 2011-2012 school year.

In fact, fifth graders were equally as proficient in science as they were in reading last school year. In the past, statewide science scores lagged behing reading scores.

And while that could change as students get a better grasp of the new reading standards, science education advocates say this year's scores shouldn't be dismissed.

"I've worked in the science education field for quite some time, and what this shows me is that Minnesota science teachers are not just paying attention to what needs to be taught, but how to teach it well," said Patty Born Selly, executive director of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Catherine University.

In 2009, the state revised its science standards to add a new emphasis on engineering.

Over the past three years, schools focused exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathmatics (STEM) have increased from 32 to 145 in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.

 

 

 

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