State reverses decision to throw out southwest Michigan elementary’s MEAP scores

Jul 25, 2014

Credit Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Scores from this year’s standardized test at one southwest Michigan elementary school will count after all. The state is reversing its decision to throw out the test scores after the district appealed.

Earlier this year the state said 3rd and 4th graders at Coloma Elementary school were allowed to go back and complete answers they had left blank on the test. State officials said there were irregularities and that the principal showed a copy of the test booklet to teachers.

Coloma's Superintendent Terry Boguth says only the last accusation is true.

She says the principal had told teachers at the beginning of last school year that students should be taught science and social studies through reading comprehension and writing.

“Sometimes when you say something like that then it gets twisted all around,” Boguth said. “It got out in the community that we weren’t teaching social studies and science. Then teachers got upset because they thought we weren’t going to teach those subjects, which wasn’t what she said.”

Boguth said the principal was trying to show teachers science and social studies weren't just multiple choice questions on the MEAP.

“She was flashing the test to show them basically that what she was saying about how we need to teach social studies and science through writing,” Boguth said, adding that the principal was reprimanded.

As for the allegation about allowing students to go back and complete blank answers, Boguth says the results back up the district's claim that that didn't happen.

“There wasn’t any significant increase that would indicate that ‘wow, what did you do this year?’ that your scores are so much better,” she said.

If the state had thrown out all the test scores, it would’ve severely hurt the school’s ranking on the state's top-to-bottom performance list. And that could bring even more serious consequences down the road, including an overhaul of school leadership and teaching staff, or even closure. 

An official from Michigan’s Department of Education says state law prohibits him from commenting on the case until the middle of next week.

But in a letter to the district Boguth provided Michigan Radio, MDE outlines several things the district must do to prevent a similar incident in the future. That includes “proper training in test administration” and proof of that training.

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