St. Clair ShoresJuly 13, 2012
Schools happy with continued improvement in exam scores
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
New cut scores for proficiency on the Michigan Merit Examination given to 11th-grade students across the state show fewer proficient students, but continued improvement in most areas for St. Clair Shores Schools.
Across the state, 56 percent of students were proficient in reading on the MME, 49 percent in writing, 40.5 percent in social studies, 29 percent in math and 26 percent in science.
Lakeview High School students beat those trends in reading and writing.
“This is our second year in a row that we had improvement in all five areas, when you’re looking at raw scores,” said Lakeview Assistant Superintendent Tracy Van Peeren.
And applying the 2012 cut scores to 2011 test results also show improvement, even though last year’s reported percentage of proficient students was higher. That report was generated with less stringent cut scores; when changed to 2012 standards, 52 percent of 2011 11th-grade students were considered proficient in reading, compared with 57 percent of 2012 juniors.
The same trend holds true in other subjects: 19 percent of 2011 students were proficient in math compared with 24 percent this year; 20 percent were proficient in science in 2011, compared with 24.5 percent in 2012; 33 percent were proficient in social studies for 2011 compared with 40 percent this year; and 45.5 percent were proficient in writing compared with 52 percent this year.
The Michigan Department of Education retroactively applied the new cut scores to old test results so that schools could better compare how their students fared.
“We always continue to use student achievement data to drive instruction and to identify strategies that are going to further improve student achievement,” Van Peeren said. “Our students did score higher than they did last year. That hasn’t changed.”
Lakeview High School students are continuing to improve ACT composite scores, as well, she said, with the average moving from 17.9 in 2010 to 18.9 in 2011 and 19.5 in 2012.
“That’s another measure for us that we’re on the right track, that we’re doing the right things,” she said. “We’re going to continue to use our data to drive instruction and do quality programming. All of these things … are showing that we are having a positive impact on student achievement.”
Lake Shore High School students beat the state averages in math this year, but school officials say a piece of the puzzle that makes this year’s scores hard to compare with any other scores is the 55 Chinese students currently enrolled in the school. They make up almost a quarter of the 11th-grade class, and “that certainly is having an impact on our scores,” said Mary Faley, assistant superintendent of instructional services in Lake Shore.
“We’re still evaluating the data … so we can determine exactly what the impact is,” she said, explaining that such subjects as English, writing and science could be impacted by the fact that the students are not native English speakers, and their social studies scores would be affected by the fact that they have not had American history for the previous 10 years of school like resident students have.
Math scores at Lake Shore High School, however, rose “dramatically,” from 22 percent proficiency in 2011 to 37 percent in 2012, above the state average. Reading scores went from 50 percent proficient last year to 47 percent proficient this year; writing went from 38 percent proficient in 2011 to 46 percent proficient in 2012; science dropped from 20 percent to 15.5 percent this year.
“For social studies, we had a decline from 41 percent to 33 percent, but there again, (it) could have to do with the impact, I suspect strongly, with the impact of our Chinese students,” Faley said. “Regardless of the impact on test scores, it’s just an exceptional opportunity for our students to have those cultural connections.
“Not everything that’s important in a child’s education is measured on the MME. They’re getting some great experiences, regardless of the pros and cons on test scores.”
On the ACT, the school’s average composite score was 19.1, compared with the Macomb County average of 19.2 and the state average of 19.6.
South Lake High School did not meet state averages in any subject, but John Thero, director of instruction and assessment for South Lake Schools, said the average South Lake 11th-grader moved up six points in the raw score.
“Our scores in every area were better than they were last year,” he said.
As far as the percentage of proficient students in each subject, 17 percent of students were proficient in math in 2011, compared with 18 percent this year; reading increased from 34 percent proficiency to 40 percent in 2012; science went from 10 percent to 15 percent proficient; social studies scores increased from 28 percent to 30 percent; and writing scores went from 33 percent proficient in 2011 to 40 percent proficient in 2012.
“We’re happy to see improvement,” Thero said.
South Lake High School’s average composite ACT score increased from a 17 in 2011 to an 18 this year. In addition, most subjects saw an increase of one to two percentage points.
“For those average scores to move one to two points … was pretty significant,” he said.
Thero attributed some of the improvement to a growth plan implemented during the 2011-12 school year that added reading specialists and support classes, and worked with teachers on literacy strategies.
Students were also given a writing prompt every week or so to see how many words they could write on a subject in five minutes to increase their writing stamina. Thero said the scores show the plan is working.
“That’s a huge increase,” he said of writing scores. “As we continue to increase those strategies in the classroom next year, we anticipate seeing even greater growth.”
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