Education

State Journal

May 20, 1998 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A matter of interpretation

A group of Minnesota school districts is at odds with Gov. Arne Carlson’s administration over how difficult the state’s 8th grade reading test really is.

At stake is how Minnesotans should interpret the results from the tests, which students must pass to graduate. This year, 71 percent of the 8th graders who took the mathematics test passed, while 68 percent passed the reading test.

The Association of Metropolitan School Districts, made up of 24 Twin Cities-area systems, asserts that the average difficulty of the reading passages ranges from grade 9 to beyond high school. The association analyzed the test using the Degrees of Reading Power program, developed by Touchstone Applied Science Associates Inc. of Brewster, N.Y.

Mark Mallander, the executive director of the districts’ group, said the analysis was performed because Minnesota politicians have used the test results to “bash public school performance.”

“If it’s 6th grade material and 30 percent fail, that’s one thing,"he said. “If it’s high school and 30 percent fail it, that’s an entirely different thing.”

But the association’s inquiry sparked questions from Mr. Carlson’s office. Bernie Omann, the Republican governor’s chief of staff, sent Mr. Mallander a letter last month asking for copies of the association’s minutes. He also requested a copy of the study; Mr. Mallander’s job description, salary, and salaries of the association’s employees; and its mission statement.

When he heard about the letter, state Rep. Matt Entenza, a St. Paul Democrat and member of the House education committee, charged in a press conference that it was “a clear attempt to intimidate anyone who’s a critic.”

Mr. Entenza said he intends to ask the governor’s office to explain itself in upcoming hearings, which also will probe the test results and how they should be interpreted.

Jackie Renner, Mr. Carlson’s spokeswoman, said the association answered Mr. Omann’s queries last week. The reading test was developed by 500 Minnesota teachers and administrators, she noted, and produced by a national testing company.

In comparison, she asserted, the association’s analysis doesn’t stack up. “Most parents agree you should be able to read a newspaper by time you’re in 8th grade,” she said, “and that’s what the test measures.”

--ANN BRADLEY abradley@epe.org

A version of this article appeared in the May 20, 1998 edition of Education Week

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)