District shows improvement on standardized tests

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published July 1, 2013

HARPER WOODS — The scores from the ACT and Michigan Merit Exam were released last week with what district officials are hailing as good news for Harper Woods and its students.

The district outpaced the state when it came to gains for Harper Woods High School students on the total score for the ACT, and student performance went up in four of the five content areas, as well as in total proficiency on the MME, whereas the state went down in four of five areas, as well as in total proficiency.

“We’re encouraged by that,” Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said of the district’s gains.

Total proficiency on the MME increased by 9.3 percent for Harper Woods High School.

The state ACT total score rose by 0.4 points, but Harper Woods saw a three-point increase.

“That’s big,” Biederwolf said. “We significantly closed the achievement gap. Our staff, our students worked hard. It’s big. It really is big.”

When it comes to the percentage of students who scored proficient or higher on the MME, the district still falls short of the percentage of students across the state that score proficient or higher, but the growth beyond what the state is gaining means that the district is working on closing that gap.

For the ACT, the composite score rose from 16.1 to 16.7. The district raised its reading score from 15.1 to 16.3, and its science score went from 16.4 to 17.4. English rose from 15.3 to 15.8.

“Our ACT scores rose significantly,” Biederwolf said.

It wasn’t all good news, though; the district didn’t rise in all content areas.

“The only area where our performance has not improved was in math, so clearly that remains an area that we want to focus on,” Biederwolf said. “We’ve got professional development actually already scheduled for this summer. We’re just going to stay at it.”

While MME scores dipped slightly at the state level, the state is seeing an overall four-year upward trend in scores on the tests, which state officials are pleased to see.

“Over the past four years, more high school students are being taught challenging content and are becoming career- and college-ready,” state Superintendent Mike Flanagan stated in a press release. “This upward trend is good news for students, educators and our state.”