The Michigan Department of Education released the Fall 2012 Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) results showing student gains for reading, mathematics and writing in all grades and most demographic groups.
“We’re moving in the right direction and that’s a credit to our schools, parents and the students themselves,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “But much work remains and achieving further gains will demand our continued commitment. Michigan’s future depends on the quality of education and preparation our students receive. It is critical to ensure our children are ready when they first enter school and are on track to be career and college ready by the time they graduate.”
Students showed gains in reading proficiency at all grade levels, particularly in grades three and eight (4.1 and 5.2 percent gain respectively). Mathematics also had proficiency gains at all grade levels, with the largest gains occurring in grades three, four and five (4.6, 5.0 and 6.1 percent gain respectively). Writing proficiency saw a 4.4 percent increase in grade seven and a 2.2 percent increase in grade four.
“These gains demonstrate Michigan’s teachers and students are rising to the challenge of the rigorous standards established last year,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “I am encouraged by the progress being made in Michigan schools and look forward to the continued efforts to help all students achieve at a higher level in all subjects.”
Montague Area Public Schools (MAPS) saw increases in many areas but one significant increase was in the fifth grade math scores. In 2011, 25 percent of students in fifth grade met or exceeded the state’s standards, which was well below the state average of 39.9 percent. However, this year that number jumped from 25 percent to 45.4 percent.
The school also saw a significant increase in the fifth grade science scores. In 2011, only 9.5 percent of students met or exceeded the standards, while this year, the number of students increased to 19.1. This is a surprising fact because science is the one area that statewide, the percentage of students who met or exceeded standards decreased in both fifth and eighth grade.
MAPS did see a decrease in scores in seventh grade writing, going from 63.4 percent in 2011 to 48 percent in 2012. That number is below the state average of 51.7.
Reeths-Puffer Public Schools also saw some significant gains, particularly in seventh grade writing and math. In 2011, 37.3 percent of students met/exceeded standards, which was below the state average of 47.3 percent. This year though, the number increased by 15 percent, to 52.3 percent, which is also above the state’s average of 51.7 percent.
To help increase the MEAP scores, R-P hired a curriculum director with a primary focus of K-12 realignment of math and English Language Arts this year.
Eighth grade math at R-P also saw a spike, increasing from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 29.1 percent in 2012.
According to R-P Superintendent Steve Edwards, math is an area where the student achievement has not matched their level of investment in the area of improving instructional practice. To help increase student achievement, R-P focused heavily on multiple days of math professional learning for staff through external training through the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.
R-P has hired four part-time math interventionists through Title One to help meet the needs of students struggling in math.
The district is looking forward to the new Next Generation Science Stands and social studies standards, which will be released in late March or early April, as ninth grade social studies was one area where the district saw a somewhat significant decrease in percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards. In 2011, the district had 31.5 percent of students meet/exceed standards while this year, that number went down to 22.5 percent.
“Our world isn’t all multiple choice,” Whitehall Superintendent Jerry McDowell said when commenting on the district’s scores in the Fall’s MEAP test.
“We’re having students collaborate to prepare them for the real world”
McDowell said the MEAP scores are a part of the assessment process when looking at delivery of education in the classroom.
“For the long term, we continue to focus on three key areas.
“Create and provide balanced assessments to better inform classroom instruction.
“Better meet the needs of all students through a multi-tiered system support model.
“Provide authentic tasks that apply to life outside the school walls.”
McDowell pointed out that Whitehall scores on math, reading, writing, science and social studies were higher than most Muskegon County districts in all grades, and higher than the state average except in third grade reading. In third grade reading 62% of Whitehall students met or exceeded proficiency, while at the state level in that grade, 68% reached proficiency.
McDowell said the district has placed an emphasis on improving math scores. Last year the district hired a math teacher consultant, and imbedded professional development in math. It also implemented new math curriculum aligned to the state common core standards.
“I feel we’ve strengthened math,” he said.
The superintendent said the district uses MEAP scores to refocus our thinking.
“We found MEAP to be helpful in the broad sense. We bring it down to the individual level using other assessments, like classroom work.”
McDowell said, as a district leadership team, including administrators, parents, school improvement teams and school board, “we look at data through multiple lenses so we can from short term and long term goals.
“One thing we do, is to continue to improve the form of delivery and design of instruction in the classroom.
In the 2014-15 school year, the mathematics, reading and writing sections of the MEAP and Michigan Merit Exam will be replaced by new assessments in English Language Arts and math.
The new test, called the Smarter/Balanced Assessment Consortium, is a collaborative organization of 28 states. It will be based on the Common Core Standards, which Michigan adopted in 2010. The Common Core Standards focuses on English Language Arts and mathematics. Also, instead of being given in the fall, this new test will be given in the spring, and school districts will have 12 weeks to complete it partly because it will all be done on computers.