Report ranks Minnesota among worst achievement-gap states

A group of pencils
New Minneapolis Fed report finds statewide education disparities affect low-income white students as well as students of color.
David Pennington via Unsplash file

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis finds Minnesota is one of the worst states in the country for education achievement gaps.

Anusha Nath, a research economist with the Minneapolis Fed, said the report reveals Minnesota’s education disparities are not just affecting students of color. Nor are they confined to one area of the state.

“There's a large disparity across socioeconomic status in addition to disparities across race and ethnicity,” Nath said. “It goes beyond just racial and ethnic groups -- it's a socioeconomic problem as well as a problem across different schools."

She also said the disparities are part of a long-term, persistent trend that affects both rural and urban parts of the state.

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The report calls Minnesota’s education disparities a crisis.

“Closing our achievement gaps is critical to the success not only of thousands of young people, but also to our economy and our state,” Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said in a statement.

The report doesn’t spell out what’s causing these gaps. Nath said understanding the cause will be the next step in her research.

“One of the main questions is trying to understand what are the underlying causes of these education gaps,” Nath said. “Understanding the mechanisms can help us shed light on what are the types of policies that work best. What is really the problem and how can we help solve it?”

The report, released on Sunday, drew on national and state test score data as well as demographic and college readiness data. It also found Minnesota students are increasingly graduating high school unprepared for college.

Correction (Oct. 15, 2019): An earlier version of this story misspelled Anusha Nath’s last name.