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Officials Find Encouragement In MN Education Gap Data

The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota schools have a lot of work ahead as they strive to cut the achievement gap between white and minority students in half by 2017, according to new data that officials say give them hope that the state's persistent achievement gap may be relenting.

"For the first time, we have concrete goals around gaps, and are letting our school leaders know exactly how far they need to go to be fully on track to close these gaps," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said of the data released Tuesday. "When you look at the numbers, you begin to realize not only how far we've come, but that our goal of reducing these disparities is actually within our reach and very doable."

Three-quarters of Minnesota school districts are now meeting, or are just a few points shy of meeting state goals for improving the academic performance of students of color, as well as low income students, special education students and English language learners. Districts need to meet those goals if they hope to have a chance to cut the achievement gap in half within three years. Schools with the largest gaps get extra assistance from math, reading and writing experts.

The data show the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts continue to struggle, but the state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, is exceeding the benchmarks.

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The data and other information are available at: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/News/PressRel/054190