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Red Wing School Board: Concerns raised about MCA testing refusal

The Red Wing School District is seeing a high trend of students opting out of standardized testing.

Dr. Beth Borgen gave an update on these trends and support services at the Red Wing School Board meeting on May 7.

Borgen, the district's director of support services, said a growing number of students are predominantly opting out of MCA testing.

Two years ago, Borgen said 45 students had parental opt outs. That number increased drastically, with 145 parental opt outs. This year the number increased again to 189 parental opt outs.

"The refusals' impact is something that concerns me," Borgen said at the meeting.

Students in the district will be taking MCA Science tests this week. Borgen said 30 percent of Red Wing high school students have already opted out.

Borgen explained that federal agencies look at the number of students who are supposed to take each standardized test, rather than the actual amount. Since 30 percent of high school students won't be taking the MCA Science test, it'll hurt the district's overall score.

"Without even looking at any of the data, we already had a 30 percent failure rate," Borgen said.

Last week, students finished the MCA Math test. Borgen said 24 percent of the junior class opted out.

Red Wing School Board member Janie Farrar asked if the district is unique, wondering if other districts are seeing the same impact. Borgen said, based on discussions with others in the education field, that Red Wing is much higher than other areas.

"It's obviously not going in the right direction," Farrar said. "Even if we like it or not."

Borgen said one reason why she estimates a drop in students taking the test is the way large, difficult tests like the ACT, AP testing and MCA testing seem to overlap.

MCA and AP testing both happen this week for the district, prompting students to pick one over the other, focusing on doing exceptionally well on one.

With the concern in mind, Borgen said she's had conversations with Red Wing High School Principal Todd Herber at finding ways to encourage students not to opt out.

One way is working to explain that taking MCA testing can be an entry test to get into state colleges.

Borgen said she will take the responsibility in communicating with families about the benefit of taking MCA testing and how they can come in handy if students wish to pursue post-secondary education.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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