Education
12:29 pm
Thu March 31, 2011

Statewide MEAP scores released today

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released the standardized test scores for schools across the state today. Students in grades 3 through 9 took the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test last fall.

Scores improved significantly in math, but remain flat in reading. The Detroit News highlighted the improvement in math scores:

Since 2005, scores have improved markedly in mathematics...In 2005, only 59.6 percent of seventh graders were proficient in math; that number has soared to 84.6 percent.

Improvement in reading scores, however, have remained flat. From the Detroit Free Press

Even though large numbers of students passed the exam, the percentage was down in 2010 from 2009 and showed little movement over the last six years. For example, the pass rate for third-graders dipped from 90% to 87%, while the pass rate for seventh-graders declined from 82% to 79%.

Some experts caution against making too much of the reading results. Elizabeth Birr Moje, with the University of Michigan's School of Education said, “schools are not necessarily neglecting literacy instruction. If anything, I see much greater attention than ever before.” Moje told the Free Press that the dip in this year's reading results could be 'anomalous.'

 

Achievement gap closing

The Michigan Department of Education said the test results show that the achievement gap between white students and students of color have improved. From MDE's press release:

The math achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed an average of 12 to 14 percentage points for students in most grades from 2005 to 2010. The largest decrease for both groups occurred in seventh grade where the achievement gap between white and African-American seventh graders reduced from 41 percentage points in 2005 to 21 percentage points in 2010.

The gap between white and Hispanic students dropped from a 27 percentage point gap in 2005 to 10 percentage point gap in 2010...

The reading achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed, especially
for fifth and seventh grade students in the past six years.

The largest decrease for both groups occurred in eighth grade, where the achievement gap between white and African-American students was closed from 26.4 percentage points in 2005 to 7.9 in 2010. The gap between white and Hispanic eighth grade students declined from 21.5 percentage points in 2005 to 10.1 in 2010.

Scores will change next year

The MEAP scores are divided into four performance levels:

  • Not Proficient
  • Partially Proficient
  • Proficient
  • Advanced

Starting next fall, MDE will raise its standards for proficiency, also known as "cut scores", which will cause the number of students marked "proficient" or above to decline.

Susan Dynarski, an education professor at the University of Michigan, told Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra that the drop could be significant:

"The cut score that the state has defined as indicating proficiency in math is currently set such that 95% of third graders are above that score. By moving up that score, 34% of third graders will be defined as proficient."

In the MDE's press release, Mike Flanagan, the State's Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the change will provide them with more realistic assessment, "we want to provide an authentic view of where students are academically. We wanted to give schools the opportunity to fully implement the more rigorous content expectations, then properly adjust the achievement standards 'cut scores' to reflect whether students are on-track to career- and college-readiness."