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West Bloomfield, Walled Lake

February 27, 2013

Schools promise action after MEAP scores released

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

No Leap Day awaits us this February, but school administrators recently observed a MEAP day as the state released its state standardized test scores.

The Michigan Department of Education pulled back the curtain on its fall 2012 test scores for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam, which measures Michigan students’ acumen in math, reading, writing, science and social studies. While the test is given to students in third through ninth grades, students are not tested in every subject each year.

Compared to last year, statewide MEAP scores did not take any steep tumbles, and they improved among most grade levels. The biggest increases went to fourth-grade and fifth-grade math, as well as eighth-grade reading.

The results show that both the West Bloomfield and Walled Lake school districts outscored statewide averages among all subjects in their respective grade levels.

But Robert Martin, West Bloomfield School District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said his district has more work to do, especially in implementing common core standards.

“The simple answer is that we need to do better,” he said. “We shouldn’t be deterred or discouraged, because the test is one snapshot, and when we look at our long data over four years, this is not a seismic shift.”

The West Bloomfield School District had its share of significant gains and losses. It improved by 5 percent or more in third-grade and eighth-grade reading, as well as ninth-grade social studies. But it dropped by more than 5 percent among sixth-grade math students, fourth-graders and students being tested for science.

And West Bloomfield’s fifth-grade science students barely edged the state’s proficiency average, 13.5-13.1 percent.

Martin pointed out that many school districts earned low marks in the science component of the exam.

“If the entire class flunked the test, there’s a problem with the teacher or the test, but not the class,” he said. “You look across Oakland County. … There’s a problem somewhere, and I don’t think it’s the students or the schools.”

Over in Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, scores grew in several categories, posting sizable gains among third-graders, as well as fourth-grade math students and seventh-grade writing students. The only drop that was greater than 5 percent was in eighth-grade science.

Mark Hess, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools’ executive director of instruction, technology and assessment, said there were no surprises on the newest scores. He said the district is scoring among the top third in the county and is seeing better results in all areas except science. The school district is also continuing to out-trend Oakland County’s and the state’s scores, he said.

“And what I really like is we’re closing our gaps in some of our AYP subgroups we’re seeing,” he added. “Our students with disabilities — we’re closing that gap.”

Hess predicted that scores could continue to grow in future years as he and his department evaluate their programs and the community.

“We are the largest school district in Oakland County, and we’re one of the most diverse,” he said. “That speaks to some of the programs we have in place. And certainly our teachers are doing yeoman’s work in the classroom.”

Learn more at about the MEAP at www.michigan.gov/mde.

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