Litchfield students demonstrated an improvement in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores in 2019 as compared to the previous year.
The MCA helps Minnesota school districts gauge student achievement and make informed decisions in adjusting curriculum and instruction. The test is administered in winter and spring to students in reading in grades 3-8 and 10, in math in grades 3-8 and 11, and science in grades 5, 8 and high school.
“What we (administrators) try to do is if we have a group of kids, particularly if they’re in third, fourth and fifth grade and they’re doing poorly, we really talk to the teachers, look at curriculum and try to do a better job,” said Jason Michels, Litchfield High School principal and the district assessment coordinator. “Asking the questions, ‘what are the kids doing poorly on the test,’ let’s do some interventions.”
Fifty-eight percent of students in grades 3-5, 7, 8 and 11 who took the math MCA scored proficient, up 1 percent from last year, and up 2 percent since 2017. Although sixth-grade scores were 2 percent higher than last year, they were below the statewide average.
Following the same group of students on the MCA math test illustrates growth. In 2017, as fifth-graders, the class scored 26 percent proficient. The following year, as sixth-graders, the class’ proficient score rose to 41 percent, and in 2019, as seventh-graders, the group posted 62 percent proficient.
In reading, nearly 65 percent of students in grades 3-8 and 10 scored proficient, advancing slightly from last year. Grades 8 and 10 progressed by nearly 2 percent, with grade 7 dropping roughly 1 percent from last year.
A longitudinal view of reading scores of a prior group of third-graders shows progress in fourth grade from 57 percent to nearly 62 percent in 2018. The same group improved further in fifth grade, scoring roughly 75 percent in 2019.
Sixty-three percent of students in grade 5, middle school and high school who took the science MCA, scored proficient. High schoolers raised the bar by 10 percent over last year, scoring nearly 65 percent. Middle schoolers scored about 53 percent, about 12 percent better than the previous year. Fifth-graders scored roughly 73 percent, climbing 8 percent over last year.
“We don’t want to be below average in anything,” Michels said. “It’s not acceptable to us… Generally speaking, the goal of the school district is, we want every grade in every year in math, science and reading to be above the state average. I think the most important goal is, we want our kids to be growing and improving, but we do take a close look at it if we’re below the state average in anything.”