Burnsville High School.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District administrators say they want to find out why significantly fewer 11th-grade students had valid scores on the state’s standardized math test.

Only around 70% of district 11th-graders completed valid Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment math tests last spring, according to data presented to the Board of Education last month.

“There’s not one core reason for people not participating,” Imina Oftedahl, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, said, adding the ACT test, which is taken around the same time, might be a factor.

Students not showing up for test day, such as students enrolled in college programs, might’ve also contributed, she said.

Tests also may be invalidated based on certain anomalies, such as selecting the same answer for each question.

Heather Mueller, an assistant commissioner Minnesota Department of Education, said standardized testing is an important measure of how well school districts are meeting the state’s academic standards.

She said there’s been a statewide drop in math proficiency rates, and the department is closely monitoring student participation to look for any regional trends.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires 95% of students complete standardized testing, but parents can decide to not have their children participate.

Oftedahl said the number of opt-outs is higher than previous years, but it’s reflective of a broader state trend. There are fewer than 10 opt-outs per grade level among the district’s elementary and secondary students except for 11th grade, where there are 61, she said.

Burnsville High School Principal Dave Helke said increasing communication about why the test is important and how it can sometimes be used for college admission are part of the plan to bring participation levels up in the spring.

For now, Helke said they are hoping to connect with individual students who didn’t take the test to find any commonalities and trends.

“The data will inform what our next steps are,” he said.


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