Clawson, Royal OakJuly 9, 2012
Local MME results favor language arts
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — The latest Michigan Merit Exam results were recently released by the Michigan Department of Education.
While local students’ scores compared with those from last year, they fell short of the state average in seven of 10 categories.
The MME is given to high school juniors each spring instead of the MEAP test, and percentile scores list class performances as either advanced, proficient, partially proficient or not proficient in five core subjects.
“Districts that had more students who were just above the cut score previously, when they raised the cut score, they dropped through the bottom,” said Sarah Olson, Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools director of instruction.
In the case of the Class of 2013 at Royal Oak and Clawson high schools, their performances were often strongest in subjects opposite of state averages.
For example, 74 percent of more than 105,000 juniors tested across Michigan met or exceeded standards in science, the state’s strongest subject. However, that was the weakest subject for ROHS and CHS students, only 28 percent and 14 percent of whom passed this year, respectively. About 41 percent of ROHS juniors and 59 percent of CHS juniors landed in the fourth category, not proficient, compared to 9 percent statewide.
On the flip side, only 44 percent of students throughout the state were proficient or advanced in reading, but that was the strongest area locally. About 66 percent of ROHS and 48 percent of CHS juniors were proficient or better in reading.
The same thing happened with writing, which was the state’s second-weakest subject with 51 percent passing. It was the second strongest locally, where 62 percent passed at ROHS and 39 percent passed at CHS. However, the bulk of students passing were just proficient, as no more than 8 percent scored as advanced at any of the three levels.
Social studies was consistently in the middle of the pack, with 59 percent of Michigan juniors, 49 percent of ROHS juniors and 22 percent of CHS juniors making the grade.
Statewide, students performed well in math, with 71 percent passing. However, just 37 percent of ROHS and 24 percent of CHS juniors passed this year. Additionally, whereas 35 percent of statewide students were advanced, just 5 percent and 3 percent were in ROHS and CHS, respectively.
“ROHS and the county have both showed an upward trend, somewhat similar with blips here and there, in math,” Olson said. “The high school and the district worked together constantly. There are many teams devoted to all of the issues related to school improvement in each of the content areas, and they are constantly working to address where they feel there may be issues. They use this information to adjust their professional work.”
Across the board, results were a mixed bag in Royal Oak and Clawson when compared to the Class of 2012’s scores from spring 2011. Only reading and writing improved by fractions of a score at ROHS, while CHS students improved in reading, writing and math.
However, proficiency was the bar that was met more often than not, as CHS students earned advanced scores in between 3 and 7 percent of the five core subjects. This included increases in just reading and writing, the latter of which only 0.8 percent of juniors earned an advanced score last year.
“Right now we are concentrating heavily on literacy at all levels,” Clawson Superintendent Monique Beels said. “Reading and writing are the focus of school improvement plans. We will be adding math, science and social studies to those conversations as we review school and district improvement plans and implementation.”
ROHS juniors fared a little better with 5-18 percent of students earning advanced scores in different subjects. However, science was the only subject that improved at all, with 1 percent to 11 percent advanced scores. Math and social studies decreased by 5-6 percent advanced scores each.
Additionally, the ACT state average improved by 0.3 to 19.6, and the number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch increased from 61.2 percent to 69.1 percent.
ROHS students beat the ACT state average, but declined 0.2 to 21 compared to their own score last year, while the number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch increased from 56.8 percent to 58.1 percent.
“Districts that had more students who are economically disadvantaged, basically by proportion the higher the percentage of kids with free and reduced lunch, the greater negative impact the redrawn cut scores have had on your proficiency levels,” RONS Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said. “Partly because there were more kids that were marginally proficient in those districts in the past. But there is a correlation between the free and reduced lunch percentages and the impact of the new cut scores.”
CHS students saw a 0.5 decrease in ACT scores, now averaging 18.4, while students eligible for free or reduced lunch increased from 60.7 percent to 70.1 percent.
“My overall thoughts on the MME results are that we, along with most districts in Michigan, have a lot of work to do in terms of MME results and student achievement,” Beels said. "Just a thought in terms of Clawson. We are so small that a few students can skew the results in one direction or another."
At both local high schools, enrollment for juniors taking the test didn’t change much. There were about 368 ROHS juniors this year, down from about 373 last year. At CHS the numbers increased from 130 to 135 this spring.
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