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Rochester students fall 13.7% in math, 10.2% in reading on MCA tests

The MCA tests students in grades 3-11. Because of the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Education did not provide results for either 2020 or 2021.

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ROCHESTER — Students in Rochester Public Schools scored lower than previous years on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.

The MCA tests students in grades 3-11. In previous years, it covered math, reading and science. However, the Minnesota Department of Education has since stopped reporting science scores as part of the MCAs.

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"We have data clearly identifying our opportunities to improve, and we have designed this new strategic plan to improve the educational outcomes that all our students achieve, including but not limited to scores on the MCAs,” RPS Superintendent Kent Pekel said in a statement.

Because of the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Education did not provide results for either 2020 or 2021.

MDE has identified three Rochester schools and programs for additional support, including Riverside Central Elementary, The Alternative Learning Center, and ALC Summer Credit Recovery. It is the first time any of them have been designated for support.

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In 2018, Franklin Elementary and Pinewood Elementary received the same designation for support, which both schools are continuing to receive.

In total, the number of Rochester students meeting or exceeding the math standards was 35.57%. That percentage is down 13.7% from 2019 when the Minnesota Department of Education last released the MCA results.

There were considerable differences in student performance along racial lines. More than 44% of both white and Asian students met or exceeded the standards. Black and Hispanic students each scored more than 20 points lower than their counterparts, with 15.86% of Black students and 15.39% of Hispanic students meeting or exceeding the math standards.

Surrounding school districts performed better. The highest-scoring district in the area was Byron, with more than 62% of students meeting or exceeding the math standards. Others included Kasson-Mantorville at 58.74%, Plainview-Elgin-Millville at 56.23%, Chatfield at 56.17%, Pine Island at 55.54%, Dover-Eyota at 45.42% and Stewartville at 42.9%.

Rochester students also performed lower than 2019 in reading. Overall, 45.41% of students met or exceeded reading standards, 10.2% lower than 2019.

The demographics of the reading scores were similar to those of math. White students scored the highest, with 55.44% meeting or exceeding the standards. Asian students were next at 50.9%. Black and Hispanic students scored 24.7% and 23.83% respectively.

The trend among area school districts for the reading scores was similar to those for math. Once again, Byron scored the best, with more than 65% of students meeting or exceeding the reading standards. Other districts' scores included Chatfield at 61.9%, Kasson-Mantorville at 59.48%, Plainview-Elgin-Millville at 57.62%, Pine Island at 56.27%, Dover-Eyota at 49.64%, and Stewartville at 48.11%.

Molly Castle Work contributed to this report.

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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