MEAP scores mixed for Shores schools

Lakeview tops in county for fifth-grade math

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 25, 2013

While local school officials say they’re continuing to work to improve student assessment results, scores from the 2012 Michigan Education Assessment Program test show St. Clair Shores students both above and below state averages, depending on the subject and grade.

In South Lake Schools, scores were almost entirely below state averages, with the exception of reading tests given to fifth-graders, in which 71.5 percent of South Lake students met or exceeded expectations, compared with 70.4 percent of fifth-graders across Michigan.

Nevertheless, John Thero, director of instruction and assessment for South Lake Schools, said they are pleased with this year’s results.

“We compared our results from last year to this year and have increased in eight areas (and) stayed the same in two areas, so we’re pleased with our growth,” he said.

The district had already been in the process of implementing a “multi-tiered system of support,” which includes reading intervention programs, and Thero said he was pleased to see that reading scores increased at almost every level in the district from 2011 to 2012. Thero said the district expects to see even more improvement in the future.

The next area of focus for South Lake will be math.

“Math, we’re not seeing dramatic decreases, but we’re kind of seeing we’re staying about the same or down slightly,” he said. “We’ll be pulling that data apart and spending the rest of this school year developing some math programs to address that.”

In Lakeview Public Schools, fourth-graders scored above the state averages in all three subjects tested — math, reading and writing — but sixth- and seventh-graders scored below state averages in each of their tests. Sixth-graders are tested on math, reading and social studies, while seventh-graders are tested on math, reading and writing.

Superintendent Karl Paulson, of Lakeview Public Schools, said they had already begun focusing on math after noticing a similar weakness in 2011.

“We felt we were a little weak there last year and the year before,” he said.

The work paid off — the district improved elementary scores in the subject, and its fifth-grade scores were actually tops in Macomb County at 65 percent proficient. Ardmore Elementary School was the top school in the entire county for fifth-grade math and Princeton Elementary came in at No. 12. The statewide average for fifth-grade math was 45.7 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations of proficiency.

“For us, I think it demonstrates (that) … when you really look at what your data tells you and you make your instructional decisions based on that data and you have a year to do something with it, there’s some significant outcomes,” Paulson said.

He acknowledges weaker scores at the sixth- and seventh-grade levels, but said that is where the district traditionally sees an influx of new students. By eighth-grade, he said, the scores jumped by seven points in reading, 10 points in math and three points in science from 2011 to 2012.

“Those new students, they may be with us only five to six weeks, but they’re part of our data,” Paulson said. With the improvement at the eighth-grade level, “We know that’s the strength of our program and our teaching is doing what it’s supposed to do.”

He said this is probably the first time the district has had a grade-level score tops in Macomb County, “so they’re really proud of that.”

“This is going in the right direction and next year will be even better,” he added.

In Lake Shore Public Schools, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Mary Faley said the highlights are the district’s reading scores.

“Our third- through eighth-grade reading scores are consistently above the state and county averages. At fourth-grade, a full 10 points above state and county averages,” she said. “If students do well in reading, it helps them to do well in other subjects, as well.”

About 68 percent of fourth-graders statewide were considered proficient in reading, while 77.6 percent of Lake Shore fourth-graders were proficient. Like in Lakeview, Lake Shore’s fourth-graders beat state averages in all three subjects. 

Lake Shore’s fourth-grade writing scores were also about 11 points above the state average of 46.7 percent proficient. Like South Lake, the district said the next subject to focus on is math. The district changed the elementary math curriculum a few years ago and recently adopted new high school texts.

“Our math scores at the elementary level were fine, but at the middle school level, they were not as strong as we’d hope, so that’s an area we’ll be working on,” she said. “Middle school is in between and we need to focus some attention in that area.”

Students throughout the state struggled on the science examination in fifth and eighth grades, with proficiency averages of 13.1 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively. All St. Clair Shores districts scored below the state average in that subject.

There will be one more year for the MEAP test before the state implements testing of ELA and math within the common core curriculum. And Faley said new standards are coming down the line for science, as well.

“Even though we realize science is an area we need to focus on, it just makes sense to wait until we have the new standards established,” she said, “so that we’re looking ahead and not being shortsighted.”

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