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Shelby Township, Sterling Heights, Utica

July 29, 2013

Four UCS high schools beat state in MME, ACT scores

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

Fresh findings of Utica Community Schools’ high school standardized test scores show the school district’s four main high schools beating statewide averages, according to school officials.

The Michigan Department of Education released the scores of the 2013 Michigan Merit Exam and the ACT exam June 24.
The state of Michigan gives the MME annually to high school juniors in order to gauge their math, reading, writing, science and social studies skills. The ACT is a national standardized test that high school students take in order to successfully enroll in higher education.

Among the high schools, Stevenson High School saw improvement in this year’s MME results in all subjects except reading. Under math, the high school leaped from 31.5 percent proficiency to 39.5, and it soared from 50.1 percent to 57.6 percent in writing. Its ACT scores rose from 20 to 20.6 in its overall score of all subjects.
Utica High School showed gains in all MME subjects except social studies and reading. It also gained in all ACT subjects, with a composite score increase from 19.5 to 20.1.

Henry Ford II High School showed a mix of slight gains and losses, with the gains being in science and social studies. Its overall ACT scores slipped from 21 to 20.6.
Eisenhower High School’s MME results mostly showed slight drops. One example was in reading, from 70.8 percent last year to 67.9 percent in 2013. Its biggest drop was in social studies, a decline from 57.1 percent to 47 percent. The school’s overall ACT score shrank slightly from 22.1 to 21.8.

UCS’s alternative schools did worse. AdvancePath Academy dropped in every subject category on the MME, earning 0 percent proficiency scores in math and science, and declining from 25.9 percent to 10.7 percent in reading. Its overall ACT scores declined from 15 to 14.

Utica Learning Academy also had its share of problems on the MME. Its results received proficiency scores of 0 percent in math, science and social studies, and its reading scores dipped from 23.5 percent to 4.8 percent. Its ACT scores in all subjects dipped slightly from 14.2 to 14 percent.

When asked how the alternative education MME scores could drop significantly between 2012 and 2013, UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy said it demonstrates “the critical need of the alternative education program and the importance of getting students back on track.”
He said the AdvancePath Academy has had recent success in helping 60 students earn their diplomas.

“The tests are administered at a time when students are struggling, from an educational standpoint,” he said. “Each year brings us a unique set of students and circumstances. … These are students who are in need of additional assistance to get back on track and earn their diploma.”
UCS Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Robert Monroe said his district offers ACT preparation workshops and practice exams. He said UCS is among the top-performing public schools in the county, though school officials are not satisfied until it continues to improve.

“The preparation for the ACT and MME are truly all-encompassing all throughout the school year,” he said. “Any or all opportunities we can provide our students so they can get ahead ... we try to do for our students.”
Statewide, ACT scores were stable, and the composite score inched up from 19.6 to 19.7. MME scores were slightly down in all subjects compared to last year, though the Michigan Department of Education noted that the four-year trends still look good.

MDE spokeswoman Jan Ellis said the difficulty level of the MME test has not increased and could not be considered a reason for the one-year decline in statewide results.
“It was likely a one-year anomaly between different students and different classes,” she said. “The long-term trend has been upward.”

Learn more about the Michigan Merit Exam at www.michigan.gov/mde.

Find out more about Utica Community Schools at www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.