In its first report card on St. Paul and Minneapolis students, a nonprofit education group reiterated troubling facts about continuing learning disparities.

To name a few: Approximately 17,000 students in K-5 are not reading at grade level. The percentage of Minneapolis kids meeting eighth-grade math benchmarks has decreased, and fewer than half of Twin Cities high school students end up earning postsecondary degrees. The numbers are even worse for students of color, who make up the majorities in both districts.

At the same time, the study by Generation Next — a coalition of 500 foundation, civic, business and education leaders aiming to close the achievement and opportunity gaps for Twin Cities kids — also identified a couple of encouraging trends. High school graduation rates have improved, and 16 percent more 3-year-olds are being screened as part of an effort to help prepare them for kindergarten.

To aid in those efforts, Generation Next announced it will receive $1 million from the United Way and $3 million from the Bush Foundation to reach 7,000 more preschoolers.

Directed by former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Generation Next is organized to meet several ambitious goals: ensuring that kids are ready for kindergarten, that they read well by third grade, that they achieve eighth-grade benchmarks in math and that they graduate from high school on time and obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate.

The report identifies research-based steps that can be taken to meet those goals, including new ways to evaluate student social and emotional learning and address racial and cultural differences. The coalition will work with school districts and charter programs in the coming year to develop a system to help schools identify struggling high school students early and get them help. The group also has launched a program with several community organizations to recruit and train reading tutors around the Twin Cities.

Now in its third year, Generation Next continues to provide strong community leadership aimed at turning around persistent learning disparities in the Twin Cities.

To review the report, go to