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Governor, education commissioner praise progress on national student assessments

WILLMAR — A national student assessment has indicated that Minnesota is narrowing its achievement gap in some cases and has posted some of its best scores ever.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius spoke to journalists on a conference call Thursday morning about scores on the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress.

The  measures students in fourth and eighth grades in reading and math.

This year, the state’s fourth-graders and eighth-graders posted the highest reading and math scores since the state began participating in the NAEP.

Minnesota fourth-graders posted the highest math scores in the country, Dayton said.

 The state also made progress in narrowing its persistent achievement gap between white and minority students.

Fourth-graders posted reading scores that were the 10th best in the nation and narrowed the achievement gap there.

Fourth-graders had posted 22nd in the nation in math and reading in the 2011 report.

Eighth-graders had the fifth-best math scores and ranked 11th in reading nationwide. While the scores were better, they not show as much improvement as fourth-graders did.

Dayton said he was confident growth would continue as the state offers more programs to support education.

“Congratulations to the students, teachers and parents,” Dayton said. He also praised Cassellius for her work “on behalf of children.”

Cassellius called the NAEP the “nation’s report card,” gauging how well each state’s students do on the same test. The state’s annual testing is designed to show how students are doing in meeting Minnesota’s academic standards.

“We’re very, very proud of our Minnesota students and the hard work our teachers are doing,” Cassellius said.

The greater improvement among fourth-graders is a sign of the state’s increasing emphasis on early education and on the lower elementary grades, she said.

Eighth-graders still showed progress but did not do as well in narrowing the achievement gap. Cassellius said she expected to see more progress there in future years.

“We’re not claiming success,” Dayton said. “We’re claiming progress statewide.” Some new programs will be going into effect in a year, and that should make a difference for the state’s students, too, he added.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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