St. Francis School District sees slump in MCA scores

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

After remaining relatively flat in 2016, St. Francis’ Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores took a dive this year.

Reading proficiency was the least affected with a 1.4 percentage point drop. This year 62.2 percent of students met benchmarks in reading, above the state’s 60.1 percent overall.

Math proficiency was down 3.2 percentage points to 58.3 percent. For the first time in at least five years, the district dipped below state average. Statewide, 58.6 percent of students demonstrated proficiency.

The School Board has discussed declining math scores on the MCA test for some time.

“At the end of the day, our scores just aren’t where they need to be,” Board Member Sean Sullivan said earlier this summer, voicing support for new math curriculum.

The board ultimately voted against implementing new math curriculum in June with inadequate funding to purchase the curriculum and still maintain a healthy fund balance.

In July, the board approved new curriculum for kindergarten through fifth-grade students and opted to continue piloting curriculum at the secondary level.

Science scores fell most dramatically: 3.5 percentage points. The district still had a larger percentage of students meet benchmarks than the state did as a whole with 59.6 percent. Statewide, 53.9 percent of test-takers were proficient.

“Whenever we see a decline, that’s not something that anyone’s happy about or pleased with,” said Nichole Rens, curriculum and instruction director.

Rens said the district will continue to delve into the data to determine what steps need to be taken to ensure all kids are proficient in all subject areas.

Changes in curriculum, interventions and professional development can all affect change, Rens said.

Students in grades 3-8, 10 and 11 sit for MCA examinations each spring. Students are tested in reading, math and science, though not necessarily in the same year.

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