MN Ranks High In International Science And Math Tests

Posted at: 12/11/2012 4:48 PM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 5:31 PM
By: Dietrich Nissen


(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A test given every four years worldwide reveals Minnesota's 8th grade students are scoring higher in key areas. The test is used to compare 4th and 8th graders science and math skills.

The news that their students ranked sixth highest internationally in science, shocked Willow Creek 8th grade science teachers, Dave Ellefson and Jane Brandt.

"It's pretty overwhelming to think they're that high up there," says Ellefson.

"On a day-to-day basis, I can't believe that they come up with that. Because on a day-to-day basis I'm like, really?," says Brandt.

The data comes from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The study says out of more than 50 participating states and countries, Minnesota's 8th grade students scored 53 points higher than average. In addition to the science score, Minnesota ranked seventh highest in math. In fact, the only education systems significantly higher in Science were in Singapore and Taipei, China.

"Most of the jobs that are available for these guys once they get out of college haven't even been defined yet," says Brandt, emphasizing the need to prepare the students for the future.

"We have to be creative. Be willing to try new things, um, and if that means trying out iPods, if that means iPads, if that means cellphones…we have to go with the flow," says Ellefson.

The teachers say keeping students active during class helps reinforce the ideas taught.

"[Teach the students] why this is important because then we take it to the next level. And so you got to teach the details and then you go to teach the bigger picture also," says Brandt.

"To know that well maybe we're actually heading in the right direction makes me feel good, positive for the kids," says Ellefson.

And despite their success, both teachers remain humble and say it's a constant work in progress.

Since the tests began back in 1995, Minnesota’s scores have gone up in science by 3 percent and math by 5 percent. The state ranks among the top 3 in the nation. The report is released by the National Center for Educational Statistics.