Recently released test results from last spring’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing at Pequot Lakes Schools and Crosslake Community School (CCS) show that these students scored above the state average in science, reading and math, the three areas tested.
Pequot Lakes and CCS showed growth in some areas, but saw a drop in reading scores. Pequot Lakes School District curriculum director Laurie Wig said that’s primarily due to the fact that in 2013 the state rolled out an entirely new test. Schools statewide largely experienced the same sort of drop as Pequot Lakes and CCS.
Spring of 2013 was the first time students across the state took the MCA-III reading test; previously students took the MCA-II. The new test was developed to be in line with new English language common core standards adopted in 2010, which were laid out nationwide as what students should know when they graduate.
Much of the country adopted the standards. Minnesota not only adopted the common core standards, but also added a media literacy component and a Native American literature component, Wig said.
The common core standards state that to be successful, students must focus on understanding the content of a text and ideas of the author at higher levels of thinking, asking questions like “Who’s stating this and why?” and “What are other points of view?”
The drop in reading scores is a reflection of those new core standards, Wig said, noting that Pequot Lakes is still working on aligning curriculum and strategies to the new standards.
In Pequot Lakes, reading scores went from 83.2 percent in 2012 to 64.6 percent in 2013. CCS scores went from 80 percent to 60 percent. Statewide results also dropped as a result of the new test, from 76 percent in 2012 to 57.8 percent in 2013.
Wig said the 2012 reading test results simply can’t be compared to this year’s because of how different those two tests are.
Science test results in Pequot Lakes show the school scored 62.2 percent, up from 56.3 percent in 2012. CCS had a major jump in science scores, from 38.5 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2013. Statewide, students scored 57.8 percent.
Todd Lyscio, director of CCS, attributed the sharp change in scores on the science test to the small population at the school. Only 20 CCS students took the MCA science test in 2013, meaning that just one or two students who do really well have a strong impact on the final score. By comparison, 386 students took the science test in Pequot Lakes Schools.
In math, Pequot Lakes students scored 67.1 percent, down slightly from 68.9 percent in 2012 but still above the statewide score of 61.2 percent. CCS showed growth in math, from 58.8 to 64.3 percent.
Wig said the drop in math scores at Pequot Lakes could be attributed to a difference in the testing method. In 2012, students were given the opportunity to test three times and keep their best scores. In 2013, though, students took practice tests, but only the final test counted.
Lyscio noted that overall CCS performed better than the statewide average for charter schools in the areas of both math and reading, and the school is on a three-year growth trend for math.
He said he was pleased with the school’s test scores. There are a couple area districts that scored better than CCS, but also a couple CCS outperformed.
“I think that speaks well to what our staff is doing for our students,” Lyscio said.
Wig pointed out that MCA tests are only one aspect of student assessment, “a snapshot.”
“We use multiple measures of assessment,” Wig said. “MCAs are just one portion of that.
“A one-day test isn’t going to tell you everything about a child,” she added.
That said, she feels Pequot Lakes students did well on the tests.
“We’re proud of our results, but there’s always work to do,” Wig said.