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St. Paul Schools release bogus test score figures

The Minnesota Department of Education matched St. Paul Public Schools' MCA records with its own and found many discrepancies. SPPS has since fixed the errors.

The Minnesota Department of Education matched St. Paul Public Schools' MCA records with its own and found many discrepancies. SPPS has since fixed the errors.

When the Minnesota Department of Education released statewide report cards for the 2015 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) last Thursday, St. Paul congratulated all of its public schools that earned a 5 percent or higher increase in reading, math, and science.

According to a news release, 13 schools improved in reading, nine in math, and 13 in science. Yet, when matched against the Department of Education’s reports, half of the 36 figures St. Paul highlighted were incorrect.

The largest discrepancies were in the science category. Nokomis South, which St. Paul Schools said had improved by 11 percent, had actually fallen in proficiency by 10 percent. Creative Arts, which the district said gained 9 percent, fell 3.4 percent according to the Department of Education’s stats. Nokomis North actually decreased by 10.5 percent instead of gaining 7, as initially reported.

Most of the discrepancies appear to embellish the Department of Education’s records, but there were also some cases in which certain schools’ achievements were misreported to be lower than they actually were. Benjamin E. Mays International Baccalaureate World School actually saw a 22 percent increase in science proficiency this year, yet was initially left off the list. Staff at the school noticed and alerted the district, which immediately updated its announcement.   

Josh Collins of the Minnesota Department of Education compared St. Paul Schools' original news release and the official scores side by side and confirmed the district had numerous errors in its reporting. The Department of Education reached out and by Monday evening the district had fixed its science stats.

District spokesman Jerry Skelly says the error was a clerical one. By press time, the district was still working on gathering accurate math and reading scores.