ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The latest national figures show Minnesota students' performance in math and reading this year was mostly stagnant or declined from 2013.
The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress released Wednesday say Minnesota fourth-graders' scores in math and reading dropped from record highs in 2013, the Star Tribune reports. No significant improvement was shown by Minnesota eighth-graders in reading and math scores.
Overall, Minnesota students' performance on the assessment, also known as the Nation's Report Card, was among the country's best. Nationally, math scores slipped, and reading grades were flat for fourth-graders and lower for eighth-graders.
The stagnant scores show Minnesota needs more of a focus on early literacy, Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said.
An achievement gap remains in scores between white and minority students in Minnesota, worse than the national average in nearly every measure, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
President Denise Specht of Education Minnesota, the state teachers union, said it's "disappointing" that Minnesota has not made more progress in closing its achievement gaps and that the national scores have stagnated.
"While it's true that in the past 15 years the demographics of Minnesota students changed, and our state was hit by the Great Recession, we should not use the external factors to absolve our leaders, and ourselves, of the responsibility to do more," Specht said in a statement.
Minnesota's gap in fourth-grade reading scores between black and white students grew to 37 points in 2015. The national average is 26 points. Achievement gaps were mostly unchanged in eighth-grade reading and math for both grades in Minnesota.
Cassellius said the results aren't the best measure of how the state is progressing in closing the gap between white and minority students. But she said they show Minnesota needs to keep working.
"We've been complacent with being at the top, and what we have to do is look deeper," Cassellius said. "Underneath being at the top, there are a lot of kids who are underachieving, and we really have to address that."
The assessment is given every two years to a sample of students in fourth and eighth grade across the country. Nearly 10,000 Minnesota students took the exam.
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