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District scores on the rise for MME, ACT



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August 01, 2012 - The 2011-12 MME and ACT tests are in for Oxford school district and scores are on the rise.

In the MME (Michigan Merit Examination) scores, the Oxford district saw an increase in every subject area tested. With all district 11th graders considered, Oxford turned in a solid 65 in Reading scores. This represents a nine point increase over the previous year, and a 13 point rise since 2008.

Likewise, the Writing scores show a marked increase from the previous year, up by eight points to 54. Math scores showed a similar jump from last year, now up five points to 28. Oxford's MME Science scores rose by six points, while Social Studies moved up two points to 49.

These scores show the Oxford district outstripping state averages in nearly every category. Countywide, Oxford ranks above average in Reading and Social Studies. In sum, the MME scores have all Oxford schools rising by 11 percent in Reading, six percent in Writing, five percent in Mathematics, one percent in Social Studies, and five percent in Science.

Often considered an assessment of student ability, James Schwarz, Oxford's Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, looks to these tests to provide the template for his own work in the coming school year. Administered in March of a student's junior year, the MME, Schwarz said, "essentially evaluates our programming in that space" since the eighth grade MEAP. "We do an individual analysis (and) that helps us to evaluate . . . our interventions at high school," Schwarz said.

For example, Schwarz noted, "the reading intervention course . . . and the math modules course that we put in place last year" was born from "looking at those tests and doing the analysis."

Returned ACT (American College Testing) scores also reveal positive trends for the Oxford school district. The ACT is a test that seeks to identify which students demonstrate college readiness. While the test can't gauge emotional or social readiness and other factors crucial to college success, it does provide an empirical measure for students, parents, and schools to ascertain whether remediation will be required.

This year's ACT scores indicate that Oxford remains well above state averages in all subject areas except for Math. Reading proficiency remains one of Oxford's strong suits, as the ACT results reveal State scores lagging Oxford by nine points. Oxford Writing scores are also strong this year, placing six points ahead of the state average. Overall, Oxford juniors rank just above the national average and just below the county average on their ACT scores.

Schwarz stresses that the MME and ACT are important yet remain only single data points among many others. Each test is considered in context with other performance indicators before strategies and policies are enacted.

These standardized tests provide a quantitative snapshot of a student's (and by extension, the district's) ability on a given day. More important than merely illustrating how a test taker might have performed on that morning, however, Schwarz values the tests for a different reason.

Schwarz said that the MME and ACT suggest to him and other school administrators which direction and which "plans do I need to derive in cooperation with the principals and the teachers to provide our lowest achievers to get to the next level," he said. Schwarz knows that school is only one part of a student's recipe for success in college and in life, however.

"Parents play a critical role in terms of what they do with the child at home. The setting of the routines with homework, being a resource, reading to their kids, supplementing what's being studied in school with resources from the internet or with resources from home. We can't stress enough with the parents that you're our partners in this with your child. In many cases we can't do it all. We need the parents to help out and reinforce what we're doing here at school.

And parents generally are very good with that. They follow through (when ) teachers send home packets . . . to work on. We're fortunate because we've got a strong parent population that supports us. (In other communities) you don't get that support . . . that follow through isn't there, and I'm grateful that in this community, by and large, folks follow through and they put a sense of importance on it. "

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