Minneapolis Public Schools’ latest scorecard shows it has made only slight gains in student achievement and some student groups, particularly Somali students, are struggling even more to meet state standards.
Overall achievement in math and reading scores stayed virtually the same for the district as whole. The scorecard also shows students receiving a 21 or higher on the ACT decreased by 3 percent.
The scorecard allows the public to take a deep dive into the district’s MCA scores, ACT scores and graduation rates by race, income status and other demographic information.
But one trend shown in the scorecard is inaccurate, district officials said. The scorecard shows that middle-class Somali children are the lowest performing group in math, with only 11 percent of them meeting standards. The scorecard shows that subgroup was 51 percent proficient in the 2012-2013 school year.
Eric Moore, the district’s director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment, said some 200 Somali students were eligible for free and reduced lunch that did not have that status at the time that they took the standardized test.
Despite the error, the district still saw a 25 percent drop in the number of middle-class Somali children that meet math standards. The dip was caused by roughly 12 students, Moore said.
“I’ve looked into that data and it’s a problem,” said outgoing board member Mohamud Noor. The district is not adding resources to address the needs of the district’s “newcomers,” students that are new to the country, which are almost entirely Somali.
The school district is equipped with data systems that allow officials to pinpoint exactly where they are losing ground in achievement. That has led to targeted initiatives for certain groups of students. But Noor said the district should be doing more to address the achievement of all students of color.
“You can go to any south west school right now, even [South High School]. Remove the white students and keep the students of color, they will become a priority school,” the designation given to schools with low academic achievement, Noor said.
Noor, who will not be on the school board come January, said Somali children no longer have access to after school programs that gave them extra tutoring in math, reading and English language skills. Funding was cut for those programs last year.
“The kids used to spend more time getting more support on a one on one level,” Noor said. “Parents are pushing me so hard on that every single day.”