FAIRMONT - School districts across the state received data on their students' Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores Tuesday.
Student scores improved in third through eighth grade in math, and 10th graders bumped up their reading over last year. Third- through eighth-grade reading scores stayed steady.
"The upward trends we're seeing show that we are on the right path to prepare our students for success," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. "As teachers, principals and districts continue to sharpen their focus on reading well by third grade; I believe we'll continue to see even greater gains across all grade levels as time goes on."
The MCA tests help determine if students graduate from high schools and determine priority areas for state education policy.
In years past, the tests have identified schools that were underperforming, or not making adequate yearly progress. The state qualified for a waiver this year, and is no longer held to those requirements.
The scores can help schools see where changes should be made.
Locally, scores varied from grade to grade, but overall students seem to be on an upward trend from prior years.
Fairmont superintendent Joe Brown said he hadn't gone over the data in depth, but had reviewed the results in math and reading from the elementary students.
"The elementary school focused heavily on math and the results show that our math scores are improving over previous years," he said. "This is especially true in the sixth grade."
He said he was surprised the reading scores weren't higher for those grade levels, however.
To counter the trend, plans are already in place to help those students who didn't score well on the test do better next year.
"We are going to intervene right away," he said.
The high school is considering adding extra time in the day for students struggling in reading or math.
The goal of the district is to see 85 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards. That number is part of the district's Q-comp plan.
Brown said he would like to see 100 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards, but there are some students in certain subgroups - like special education - that simply might not be able to pass the tests.
Statewide, the 2012 results showed gains in nearly every category among the state's students of color and special populations, particularly the math scores for American Indian and Hispanic students in grades 3 to 8. Cassellius said the state's sharp focus on all students, particularly diverse and disadvantaged students, is beginning to build momentum and close gaps.
Today's results provide a look at student proficiency statewide. Later this month, new Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) scores are scheduled to be released, showing how individual schools are doing in multiple areas, including growth toward proficiency and progress in closing achievement gaps.
"Overall we are fairly pleased," Brown said. "We are still analyzing the data."