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February 20, 2013

Troy School District students post gains in three Rs

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Troy School District students post gains in three Rs

The number of Troy School District students who tested proficient on the recent Michigan Educational Assessment Program test followed state trends, with Troy students posting gains in reading, writing and arithmetic, and science test scores taking a collective dive.

The Michigan Department of Education released results of the MEAP test to the public last week, although the school districts have had the numbers since December.

Troy School District students’ test scores soared above state averages in every case, and Troy science scores for fifth- and eighth-graders dropped by 12 and 13 points, following the state trend.

“Although we are not able to see many released items from the MEAP, we know that the MEAP tests primarily emphasize content with just a handful of questions addressing skills and practices, while 38 percent of the Michigan Merit Exam that our 11th graders take depends on responses from the ACT, which emphasizes skills such as logic, reading and data interpretation,” said Laura Ritter, Troy School District science coordinator, via email.  The ACT college entrance exam assesses skill levels in English, math, reading and science.

Ritter explained that the cut scores for the MEAP were raised a couple of years ago, and the questions became harder and tested a deeper depth of knowledge. “We need to be focusing not just on the content, but the best methods and practices that promote a deeper understanding of science concepts and address misconceptions, which will ultimately lead to better retention of the content and concepts assessed on the MEAP,” she said.

“We work very hard to make sure that our students, staff and parents share a common vision of our high expectations for student success. Our students are surrounded by staff who believe in them and support them and want each student to achieve at the highest level. We recognize that some of our students must overcome significant obstacles, but we know that these are not insurmountable, if students are given the right support. Our teachers are a strong team who work together for the good of every student,” said Ann Mull, Troy School District curriculum director, in an email. 

Statewide, students’ reading scores improved in all grades, particularly in grades three and eight. Math scores also improved, with the largest gains in grades three, four and five. Writing scores for seventh- and fourth-graders also increased statewide.

“These gains demonstrate Michigan’s teachers and students are rising to the challenge of the rigorous standards established last year,” state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a prepared statement.  

In Troy, math scores for third-graders dropped by about three points, while math scores for students in grades four, five, six, seven and eight increased, by as much as eight points for sixth-graders.

“While we look closely at grade-level data and trends, the best inferences that we can make about learning from the MEAP are for larger groups of students,” Mull said.  “When all of the scores of students who took the MEAP in the fall are combined, the Troy School District has the highest percentage of students meeting and exceeding the math college-readiness cut scores in the county. We work to ensure a rigorous curriculum is delivered in a supportive learning environment. We also recognize the importance of family and community involvement.”

Troy School District third-, sixth- and eighth-graders’ reading scores increased, with the highest gain being seven points for eighth-graders, while fourth- and fifth-graders’ reading scores decreased slightly. Writing scores for fourth- and seventh-graders increased by about four points in each case.

“Troy’s scores continue to be strong and have improved in a number of areas.  I am very proud of our staff and students,” Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler said in an email. “Our student achievement reflects the hard work they have done.  There is a great deal of information for us to review, and we always pay attention to our student performance, as we want to show continuous improvement. Troy has a very talented staff, and that is reflected in our student achievement.”

Mull agreed.

“The MEAP tests are a part of a larger system of assessments that are used in the Troy School District to evaluate our work to improve student learning and achievement. In addition to standardized assessments like the MEAP, teachers continuously work to improve the quantity and quality of formative assessments — those assessments that take place each day during the learning process and are used to provide feedback to students,” Mull said. 

For detailed MEAP results, visit www.michigan.gov/mde.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.