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Test scores prompt state lawmakers to plan hearings

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The education committee chairs in the Minnesota House and Senate are both planning to hold hearings in the coming months on the state’s persistent achievement gap in schools, which was again highlighted in the latest round of statewide testing.

Minnesota Department of Education officials released results Thursday from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests. Those results showed reading scores were steady, math scores dipped by a percentage point, and science scores overall were stagnant.

Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said in a news release that the results show Minnesota is falling short of its goal to provide every student with a world-class education. Loon, the chair of the House education finance committee, also said that too many children are falling behind academically.

“The status quo is failing the next generation,” Loon said. “We owe it to our children to consider all avenues and educational reforms to remedy this problem and improve student learning.”

Loon said she plans to hold hearings this fall to “explore innovative solutions.”

The chair of the Senate education committee raised similar concerns.

Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, said in a separate news release that the test scores show there is more work to do to help students move forward.

“The status quo is not good enough,” Wiger said. “We must grow if we are going to succeed.”

Wiger noted that the MCAs provide an incomplete picture of student progress. He said additional data due out in September will show which students are making progress.

Wiger said he will hold hearings before the next legislative session begins in March. He also plans to visit schools around the state to discuss testing issues.

“I consider it my responsibility to investigate this often-frustrating testing environment and hope to come to the Legislature with ideas to make this process less stressful for students and more effective at showing us what still needs to be done in our schools,” he said.