Students score well on state reading tests

When it comes to reading, TCU’s students who were in third and fourth grades last year helped push the TCU District’s overall reading score slightly above the state levels, thanks to their MCA reading scores, recently released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
The MCA tests measure how Minnesota students are doing on state academic standards in math, reading and science. The tests are a direct measure of student performance. 
In addition to the third and fourth grades, fifth grade’s results were even with the state, as well as 6th and 10th grades. The grade that dropped the most in reading scores were the middle school students in seventh and eighth grades. A total of 46 percent of TCU seventh graders were proficient in reading, versus 54 percent in the state, and 44 percent of eighth graders versus 54 percent of the state.
Last year, the MDE  split the first-year TCU District’s scores into the former Montgomery-Lonsdale and Le Center districts. 
Last spring, Preisler said students took a new state test on revised MN state English standards that test students on more challenging reading material from grade to grade, pushing them to show their skills. Because the test was new, the district can’t compare its scores from previous years, and needed to use the state’s average as a benchmark.
“The trend is right at or above the state average,” Preisler said.
The results for the math portion of the MCAs are a little more “all over the board”, the superintendent said. Overall, the district is close, at 59.3 percent, below the state average of 62.6 percent. Students in grades third, fourth, and sixth scored better on their tests than the state average, but the rest of the grades fell below the average.
“The encouraging thing is in 2011 the math standards went through a change and the state’s math results overall saw a dip,” Preisler said. “We saw a dip, but have been making incremental increases since then. Our trend is heading in the right direction, and we need to accelerate the best way we can. High standards in the state and the district are important.”
Preisler said the district is continuing to be proactive and working toward higher standards. She said the district continues to look at its curriculum, resources, and teaching strategies, to make sure they align with the state standards. She said the district is also looking at the previous test scores of the Montgomery-Lonsdale and Le Center Districts before they consolidated, to see if the drops in scores are a pattern or a subgroup of students. 
Brenda Cassellius, commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education, called the state’s results of the tests a “moving target”.
“It’s important to look at the test results for what they are — a snapshot in time that tells us how students are doing in mastering our state standards,” she said. “What is needed now is to focus on our efforts and stop moving the goalposts so teachers and students have a consistent target to hit.”
That is exactly what TCU is doing, Preisler said.
“We are always looking to have a clear understanding of the what the state standards are, identifying the outcomes, and looking at our resources, interventions and strategies,” she said.