February 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

MEAP results: Michigan scores up in science and writing, mixed in math and reading

Data from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program showed statewide gains in science and writing since 2012 for all students who took the test. (Getty Images)

Lansing — Michigan’s eighth-graders made significant academic gains in reading but more than half of the students in all grades failed the math test, according to 2013 standardized test results released Friday by the state.

Data from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program showed statewide gains in science and writing since 2012 for all students who took the test, but mixed results in math and reading across all grades. Social studies scores statewide showed the largest decline year to year.

(Read complete results here.)

Students in grades 3-9 took the final MEAP in October, as the state moves to online assessment in the spring of 2015.

The students are rated as not proficient, partially proficient, proficient or advanced under the current format.

In math, proficiency rates ranged from 34.5 to 45.3 percent, with students in grades 3, 4 and 5 seeing drops in scores while students in grades 6 and 7 made gains. Grade 8 stayed the same at 34.5 percent proficient.

In reading,, 72.7 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient, compared with 65.7 percent in 2012. The number of eighth-graders considered advanced proficient in reading jumped a whopping 16.4 percentage points, since last year to 28 percent.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Education, the agency that releases MEAP data, said 70 percent of fourth-graders in Michigan were proficient in reading in 2013, an increase from 68.1 percent in 2012; 67.7 percent in 2011; and 63.5 percent in 2010.

Results from the 2013 MEAP reflect what children learned the previous school year, which means fourth-grade test scores indicate reading levels attained at the end of third grade.

“Continued focus on reading skills starting from the youngest ages will help every child reading at grade level by the end of third grade,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “We need to invest more in Early Childhood and At-Risk programming to keep moving the needle on reading proficiency.”

In science, 16.8 percent of fifth-graders and 19.8 percent of eighth-graders were proficient, while in writing, 50.5 percent of fourth-graders and 53 percent of seventh-graders were proficient. In social studies, 26 percent of sixth- and ninth-graders were proficient, but the scores fell three points in each grade compared to 2012 scores.

Test scores at 15 schools run by the Education Achievement Authority showed a range of results, with gains in 11 of 18 test areas, including a 10 percentage-point gain in reading for eighth-graders and 6.5 percentage point increase for sixth-graders.

Still, proficiency rates remained under 10 percent in 13 test areas at the EAA, including zero proficiency for seventh-grade math and for fifth-grade science.

EAA third-graders saw a 7.3 percentage-point decline in reading scores with only 8.2 percent considered proficient, compared with 15.5 percent last year.

The district’s biggest gains were in eighth-grade reading, up from 21.6 to 31.8 percent. Fourth-graders also improved their scores in reading, from 11.8 percent proficient in 2012 to 17.9 percent proficient in 2013.

This is the second academic year for the EAA, which took over the worst performing schools operated by Detroit Public Schools in 2012.

John Covington, chancellor of the EAA, said test results indicate growth and progress by students, many who came into the EAA several academic years behind their peers.

More than 90 percent of EAA students tested zero proficient in math when they entered the EAA in 2012, officials said.

“When you consider the fact they come to us two to three years behind, and at lot of kids were at zero percent proficient and have been for years and years, it’s extremely exciting for us to see improvement. That is the purpose of the EAA,” he said.

Covington said although there are two years of test results available, education research says with any transformation model that is new to students and teachers that results can take three to five years.

“And we are already showing early signs of growth,” he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who created the EAA in 2011 to take over the state’s lowest performing schools, said: “The results show we are making solid progress, but by no means are where we want or need to be. We have more work to do as we help our most-challenged children and all Michigan’s students.”

At Detroit Public Schools, Superintendent Karen Ridgeway said test scores examined over the last three years show DPS students are making significant progress in science and social studies.

She also said the district’s African-American students — a majority of DPS students — are getting closer to matching the statewide test scores for blacks.

In third-grade reading, the gap between black DPS students and black students statewide has been reduced to 1.1 percentage points, though the gap for the same groups in seventh-grade reading is 7.3 percentage points, Ridgeway said.

The district is having its academic plan reviewed by education deans at eight Michigan universities to see where improvements can be made. Still, proficiency rates remained under 10 percent in 4 of 18 test areas at DPS, including in fifth- and eighth-grade science where rates were 2.9 and 4.0, respectively.

“Yes, we have some work to do, but there are some schools that are soaring,” Ridgeway said.

The MEAP was given every year in reading and math in grades 3 through 8, in writing in grades 4 and 7, in science in grades 5 and 8 and in social studies in grades 6 and 9.

All MEAP-tested subjects are part of Michigan’s school accountability system and will be displayed on school scorecards online.

State lawmakers are debating legislation to hold back all third-graders who aren’t proficient in reading; action on the House floor could begin next month.

Lawmakers also are considering House Bill 5144, which would require state education officials to develop early intervention programs to help struggling students in grades K-3. The two measures are tie-barred, meaning both must be passed for either to take effect.

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