North Dakota Student Assessment Results: Just 40 Percent Proficient In Math, 46 Percent In English


The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has released the results from this spring’s student assessments, and while they’re doing their best to put a positive spin on the numbers, they aren’t pretty.

“Based on tests scored to date, about 46 percent of North Dakota students who sat for the exams are proficient in English,” the DPI press release states (read it in full below). “About 40 percent are proficient in mathematics.”

“The assessments give North Dakota students an opportunity to demonstrate what they know and are able to do at their grade level,” the release continues. “They are aligned to North Dakota’s learning standards in English and mathematics.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”Based on tests scored to date, about 46 percent of North Dakota students who sat for the exams are proficient in English,” the DPI press release states. “About 40 percent are proficient in mathematics.”[/mks_pullquote]

So, just to be clear, less than half of North Dakota students are meeting the state’s math and English standards.

“These assessments are coupled with higher academic standards, and were designed to be more challenging. They are focused on developing skills in critical thinking and problem-solving,” Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in the release. “Our expectations in content and performance are higher. We believe our results will be even higher in the future as our stronger math and English learning standards are taught.”

That sounds like spin, and I would certainly hope that the goal is to do better, because when a majority of our students lack proficiency in these basic skills that means our schools are failing. Setting high expectations is a pointless exercise when most students aren’t meeting those expectations.

Are the expectations too high? Are the tests producing accurate results? Or are our schools failing miserably? Because I really don’t see another choice here. North Dakota sets the standards. North Dakota sets the testing. And now North Dakota schools are failing their state’s own test.

Who is going to be held accountable for that?

The results released represent just the 80 percent of assessments which have been processed so far, but DPI says these results should be reflective of the final numbers. The delay is in processing assessments taken by students using pen and pencil instead of a computer.

SAB readers will remember that the roll out of these assessments this spring went about as badly as it could have possibly gone. Computer glitches delayed testing, and put schools in a bind where they were rushing to complete the assessments before the end of the school year. It’s not clear if those problems contributed to lower scores. The DPI release claims these results line up with National Assessment for Educational Progress assessments of North Dakota students and ACT testing in the state, so there’s that.

Here’s the full release: