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February 20, 2013

Royal Oak, Clawson schools show improved MEAP scores

Reading, math scores strong, as science, social studies struggle

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

LANSING — The latest round of Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores were released by the state last week and showed positive results for local districts.

Both Royal Oak and Clawson school districts fared well against state averages in comparison to many of the scores released last February. The scores released Feb. 11 were from testing periods in October 2012.

“Overall, student achievement continues to improve,” said Shawn Lewis-Lakin, superintendent of Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools. “We’re well above state averages and we’re highly competitive within the county.”

The MEAP test measures multiple subjects spanning third through ninth grade. Although not every grade level is tested in every subject, math, reading, writing, science and social studies are the primary focus areas. Lewis-Lakin said it is important for parents to look at the same group of students from one year to the next, as opposed to the same grade level each year.

For example, 48.7 percent of Royal Oak third-graders were deemed proficient in math in 2011. That same group, as fourth-graders in 2012, was 52.5 percent proficient throughout the district, an improvement of 3.8 percent. The 2012 third-graders were also ahead of the game at 58.6 percent proficiency, meaning they scored at Level 1 or Level 2 on the test, out of four levels.

Math and social studies were some of the areas with the largest changes in Royal Oak. The 2011 sixth-graders improved from 44.8 percent proficiency in math to 53.7 percent proficiency as seventh-graders in 2012. And, although the 2011 seventh-graders dropped from 60.5 percent proficiency in math to 52.8 percent proficiency as 2012 eighth-graders, that 52.8 percent proficiency is 15.8 percent higher than the 2011 corps of eighth-graders.

“I was very pleased with our middle school math scores,” Lewis-Lakin said. “We have our district school improvement teams in each building. (They) look at MEAP scores on an ongoing basis. We have an ongoing commitment to improvement. We’re looking at data and using it (to improve going forward).”

The total number of students tested at each grade level in Royal Oak was between 330-415 in 2012, compared to 333-392 in 2011. In Clawson, those numbers were much smaller, with 97-153 students being tested per grade in 2012, compared to 93-144 in 2011.

The highlight of Clawson’s scores was third-grade reading, where 78 percent of students were deemed proficient, which was 8.1 percent higher than the previous group of third-graders in 2011. Those students had 66 percent proficiency as fourth-graders in 2012.

“I think a lot of it had to do with Oakland Schools and the reading workshop,” Clawson Superintendent Monique Beels said. “Yes, we’re moving forward and improving. We’d like to improve at a faster rate. In the state, we’re above the average and, the county, we’re a little below. I’d like to move to the other side of that.”

Reading was the strongest subject at every grade level for Clawson students, who struggled in all other subjects at the eighth- and ninth-grade levels. The lowest 2012 scores in Clawson came in fifth- and eighth-grade science, as well as ninth-grade social studies, all three of which scored below 20 percent proficiency.

Fifth- and eighth-grade science were also the lowest scores in Royal Oak, both falling below 30 percent, while all other scores were above 41 percent proficiency, including a handful in the 80th percentile.

“I think we’re kind of waiting on the Common Core to kick in,” Beels said, referring to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. “The science curriculum in Michigan is a mile wide and an inch deep. The common core hasn’t been adopted yet; it’s just in draft form.”

Royal Oak and Clawson’s struggle areas were mirrored at the county level, where fifth- and eighth-grade science, as well as ninth-grade social studies, produced the lowest proficiency levels, with science proficiency below 23 percent and reading below 39 percent. However, most of the scores across the board were improvements on 2011 scores, both locally and countywide. More than 14,000 students were tested in Oakland County per grade, on average.

Statewide, the number of students tested per grade showed a noticeable drop, but, among roughly 110,000-113,000 per grade, the highest proficiency rating was fifth-grade reading at 70.4 percent. The lowest statewide proficiency rating was 13.1 percent for fifth-grade science.

To view specific scores by grade level for each district, county and the state, visit www.mi.gov/mde.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.