Report: Mpls. schools not meeting targets in 4 of 5 areasby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
The head of Minneapolis Public Schools presented a report Thursday morning, updating progress in five key areas. In four of those, students are not meeting the district's own targets.
Minneapolis — Those five areas count how many 5-year olds are ready for kindergarten, how many third graders are proficient in reading, how many eighth graders are proficient in math, how many high schoolers graduate in four years, and how many students are considered "college ready."
Superintendent Bill Green says the bright spot was graduation rates -- which jumped to 73 percent last year compared to 53 percent just four years ago. The statewide graduation rate is 91 percent.
Knowing where the district is falling short is key, Green added, because the district can now tweak curriculum and programs to help in certain areas.
"Just as a parent would measure a growing toddler's height by putting a mark on the kitchen doorway, these indicators are practical checkpoints for parents to gauge their child's educational progress," he told an audience at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis.
The data are also divided by race and show wide disparities.
- Among 5-year old children, 87 percent of whites are considered ready for kindergarten, compared to just 24 percent of Hispanic children.
- 86 percent of white third graders are proficient in reading, but only 36 percent of American-Indians are. Asian third graders saw the largest decrease -- 59 percent of them were proficient in 2007, but the rate dropped to 47 percent in 2008.
- The district hoped 43 percent of eighth graders would be proficient in math last year, based on standardized test scores, but only 35 percent were. By race, 73 percent of white eighth graders were math proficient, compared to 14 percent of African-Americans and 9 percent of American Indian students.
"The disparities in math across racial groups, especially for African-American and American Indian students, are significant and unacceptable," Green said. "I share your urgency in meeting this challenge head-on."
- Only 30 percent of high schoolers are considered ready for college, based on whether they scored a at least a 21 on either the ACT or PLAN test. But 66 percent of white students are college ready; only 10 percent of African-Americans and 11 percent of Hispanic students are.
While the data provide an idea of where the district must improve, Green offered no specific ways to do just that. He instead focused on programs that have been launched in recent years to address some of the shortfalls, and noted the report is a "snapshot" for the community that should now be used to focus and redouble efforts.
More than 34,500 students attend Minneapolis public schools. Of those, 40 percent are African American, 30 percent are white, 17 percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are Asian, and 4.5 percent are American Indian.
(To read the entire report, click on the link on the right side of this page)