Schools in the Douglas County area scored, as a whole, above the state average in the Minnesota Department of Education’s recently-released Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores.
Every student in grades 3-8 plus 10th grade takes a reading test, all students in grades 3-8 plus every 11th grade student takes a math test, and students in grades 5 and 8 take the science test. High school students are also required to take the science test once.
The state results also included attendance figures, and all three Douglas County school districts came out above the statewide mark of 85.4%. Alexandria had an 88.4% overall attendance figure, Brandon-Evansville 90.2% and Osakis hit 95.8%.
“I’m really pleased overall with how Osakis did,” said Randy Bergquist, superintendent of Osakis Public Schools.
The district had 67.8% of students meeting standards in science, which is 17.1% above the statewide percentage of 50.7%.
“That’s great. That’s incredible. Our science scores, I’d put them up against any school district in the state,” he said.
For math, 62.4% of students met standards, 6.9% better than the statewide math average for that subject.
“We’ve always been a strong math district here, which is awesome,” he said, noting a strong math program starts in elementary school. High school teachers supplement the math curriculum with their own material, which adds to students’ learning.
In reading, the district scored 64.4%, 2.5% better than the state average.
Bergquist credited faculty for the MCA results, and also paraprofessionals, kitchen and custodial staff, bus drivers and others who work together to encourage students to do well.
“It’s about making kids feel comfortable when they come to school, and hopefully their comfort will help them to do as well as they possibly can on the MCAs.”
MCA tests are a snapshot of a student on a particular day, he said, and because of that, he’s not a big fan of the tests. Multiple factors, such as if students had a bad morning or night, didn’t eat breakfast, got into a fight with their sibling or into trouble with their parents could cause them to perform not as well as they could have.
The district's overall results fell from last year's numbers. Math was 7.3% below the 2018 score, science 3.8% under last year, and reading 2.2%. Bergquist said he doesn’t know exactly why the scores went down, but has some speculation.
“They’re a whole group of different kids that took the test, number one," he said. "Number two, we missed a lot of school last year because of the winter.”
He said the days that were cancelled were in the crucial time frame from January through April right before the tests, when students and staff are preparing for them.