Leaders and Laggards: Minnesota’s report card on K-12 education effectiveness

/ 24 September 2014 / Shawna


Academic Achievement

Relative to other states, student performance in Minnesota is very strong—the state ranks among the highest in the nation. Fifty-nine percent of 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam, 17 percentage points above the national average.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Minnesota earns a solid grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Thirty-seven percent of low-income 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam, 12 percentage points higher than the national average.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Minnesota is very high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living.

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Minnesota posts above average marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Minnesota earns an excellent grade preparing its students for college and careers. Students have a very high chance for college attendance by age 19.

21st Century Teacher Force

Minnesota does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. It struggles with removing ineffective teachers, but it is a middling performer for delivering well-prepared ones and expanding the teacher pool.

Parental Options

Minnesota does an excellent job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state has a first-rate charter school law that permits a number of independent authorizers and a great deal of freedom for schools to operate. The North Star State also has a number of high-quality school choice options for parents.

Data Quality

Minnesota earns a good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The state is especially strong in creating feedback reports for high schools.


Minnesota receives a good grade employing technology to provide excellent instruction and personalized learning. Students have access to high-quality digital learning options.

International Competitiveness

Minnesota earns a very high grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. Forty percent of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard, one of the highest rates in the country.

Fiscal Responsibility

Minnesota receives average marks on fiscal responsibility, with 75% of the state’s pension funded.