Study shows where Minn. could improve in teaching math and science

New analysis of a test that pitted Minnesota students against the world offers areas where the state could improve in both math and science.

Scores released last year showed Minnesota students rank among the world's best on math and science.

Michigan State University researcher Bill Schmidt dug into those numbers to look for places to improve.

He found, for example, schools with the highest poverty spent about a month longer teaching basic math, presumably as remediation. But Schmidt said those schools should cut their losses and move to algebra sooner.

"We have enough data now that shows if you maintain working on those basic skill things in the middle school - especially in the 7th and 8th grade, you're not going to gain anything," Schmidt said. "The kids won't gain anything. It's a complete waste of everybody's time."

State education leaders say they'll review Schmidt's analysis but added his ideas appear to have merit.

"I buy it," said Education Commissioner Alice Seagren, during an event Tuesday to release the new analysis. "I think a lot of times the kids are just plainly bored [with remediation]. So I think part of it is taking a chance to expose these kids to some new concepts and seeing if you can't re-ignite their interest."

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