[RELEASE] Minnesota Launches Statewide System to Support Student Learning Recovery

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Press Release Minnesota Department of Education

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ashleigh Norris



August 27, 2021

Previous Announcements

Minnesota Launches Statewide System to Support Student Learning Recovery

Statewide assessment results for 2021 show declines in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade level standards, reinforcing need for support

ROSEVILLE, MN – Today, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced a new statewide system, called COMPASS, to support learning recovery as students head into another school year that is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. COMPASS, which stands for Collaborative Minnesota Partnerships to Advance Student Success, aims to accelerate learning by meeting students’ academic, social-emotional and mental health needs as Minnesota school communities continue to navigate the pandemic. The announcement comes as the department releases results of the 2021 statewide assessments, which include the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), ACCESS for ELLs (English language learners) and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Assessment results show declines in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade level standards compared to 2019, the last time students took statewide assessments.

"The statewide assessment results confirm what we already knew—that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our students’ learning and they need our help to recover,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “As we head into a new school year, MDE stands ready to partner with our educators, school leaders and staff as they work to accelerate learning and provide social-emotional and mental health support for our students."

COMPASS involves coordinated support from MDE experts and partners in the Minnesota Service Cooperatives and Regional Centers of Excellence. Key areas include professional development on Minnesota’s Multi-tiered System of Supports; data analysis and data literacy training; and targeted support plans in the areas of literacy, math and social-emotional learning.

“Every student has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know that not all students have been affected in the same way,” said Dr. Mueller. “COMPASS takes an all-hands-on-deck approach, in partnership with the Minnesota Service Cooperatives and Regional Centers of Excellence, to meet the needs of individual students.”

The statewide assessment data released today by the department affirms the need for student learning recovery. Decreases in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade level standards are seen across all student groups. American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students, and English learners, students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and students receiving special education services, saw significantly lower levels of students meeting or exceeding grade level standards, compared to all students overall, across all three assessment subjects.

The Minnesota statewide assessments are one piece of information within a district or school’s broader assessment system. These assessments are designed to measure achievement toward meeting the Minnesota Academic Standards (for the standards-based accountability assessments) and measure progress towards meeting the WIDA English Language Development Standards (for English language proficiency accountability assessments).

Students take reading statewide assessments in grades 3-8 and 10. Of the students who took the reading MCA and MTAS, 53% met or exceeded grade level standards, down almost 7 percentage points from 2019.

In math, 44% of students in grades 3-8 and 11 who took the MCA or MTAS met or exceeded grade level standards, down 11 percentage points from 2019.

The science MCA and MTAS are administered for students in grades five and eight and once in high school. In 2021, 43% of students who took the assessments met or exceeded grade level standards, which is an 8 percentage point drop from 2019.

ACCESS for ELLs measures students’ English language proficiency. Of the students who took the ACCESS for ELLs in 2021, 9% were proficient in English, a 3 percentage point decrease from 2019.

Minnesota’s data mirrors a trend seen across other states that have publicly released their assessment results.

"We did not wait for the data to be available before we began working to create opportunities for students to catch up,” said Dr. Mueller. "Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget laid a foundation for expanded summer programming and other critical academic and social-emotional support to help get students on track. This system of support will build on those efforts into the school year and beyond."

The data released today shows student performance on state assessments at one point in time during the 2020-21 school year. Normally, the assessment results are included as part of a broader North Star Accountability release. Minnesota received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for the accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for 2020 and 2021. The next round of identification of schools for support and improvement under ESSA has been delayed until fall 2022. 

Statewide Assessment results are available on the Minnesota Report Card and in MDE’s Data Center.