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Our View: Test scores reveal much

The Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning released math, reading and writing test scores last week for Minnesota third- and fifth-graders.

The Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning released math, reading and writing test scores last week for Minnesota third- and fifth-graders.
Always controversial, the tests still provide a valid measuring stick, telling us how schools stack up against one another. A high test score relative to other schools means the school must be doing something right. A low relative test score suggests that that particular school is not measuring up to its peers.
For example, where in northeastern Minnesota is a good school for third-graders to learn math? The test results suggest that Washington Elementary in Ely is at the top of the list, followed closely by Vaughan Elementary in Chisholm, Northome Elementary and Cook Elementary.
Which school s have the lowest third-grade math scores? Deer River North Elementary, Hinckley Elementary and Wrenshall Elementary.
The honor roll of schools for third-grade reading includes Chester Park Elementary here in Duluth, as well as Ely Washington (again) and Floodwood Elementary.
At the bottom in third grade reading are Lincoln Park and MacArthur West, both here in Duluth.
At the fifth grade level, Congdon Park Elementary in Duluth was among the elite in math, reading and writing. In fact, both the average reading and writing scores at Congdon Park led all schools in northeastern Minnesota.
Woodland Middle School fifth graders in Duluth were also among the highest scoring in reading.
In writing, Duluth's public schools fared particularly well with three schools, Birchwood, Lester Park and Woodland joining Congdon Park in the top six.
At the other end of the scale, fifth-graders at Grant Magnet and Lincoln Park Elementary were near the bottom in math. Grant did make a sharp improvement in reading over a year ago.
Also, Edison's Raleigh Primary School had the lowest scores in the region in fifth- grade math, reading and writing.
Many educators hate the accountability that standardized test scores bring, but many parents are simply looking for results. Parents ought to use those test scores in two ways: first, to select a school for their child, if that option is available, or second, to demand changes and improvement if the school attended by their child is falling behind.
Also, communities in general need to look at school test results from an economic development viewpoint. People move to communities where the schools are perceived to be excellent, and are reluctant to move to where they are below average.

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