Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester School District experienced a sizable drop in the percentage of students who demonstrated proficiency in math on the 2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, and the scores posted by Rochester Public Schools students were below the statewide averages in all three subject areas covered by the standardized exams.

The number of students with scores high enough to be considered proficient in math fell from 58.7 percent last year to 55.6 this year, which is well below the statewide average of 59.4 percent. In reading, the 2016 scores for students in the Rochester Public Schools were down slightly from 2015, dropping from 59.8-percent to 59.6-percent. The statewide average is 59.7 percent.

The school district’s science scores were up about a half-point from last year, but remained 4.1-percent under the statewide average.

Statewide test results show math and reading scores have remained steady–with little improvement–for the third year in a row.

The results also show little progress in closing the achievement gap–with black students failing math and reading tests at twice the rate of white students. In the 2015-16 school year, 59-percent of students met math standards, and 60-percent met reading standards.

State Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius says “it is disappointing to see the slow pace of progress.” She says closing the achievement gap is still possible, but “we cannot do it alone.” And she says the only way to close the gaps is to “address with equal urgency the opportunity gaps outside of school that impact children’s likelihood of school success.”

(Learfield Wire Service contributed to this story)