March 26, 2014 - Goodrich-Results from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores released last month, with a few exceptions, reflected improvements in math, reading, writing, science and social studies for students third through eighth grade in the district.
With the exception of fourth grade writing, the district's proficiency scores outpaced both the state and schools in Genesee County.
Significant gains were made in proficiency for seventh grade math from 41 percent to 64 percent and seventh grade writing from 58 percent to 73 percent. Dips in proficiency were realized in fourth grade writing, which dropped from 48 percent to 37 percent and sixth grade social studies, which sagged from 51 percent to 41 percent.
The results were discussed at the school board meeting on Monday night and included an analysis of MEAP scores in the district since the 2009-10 school year. According to the data that compared five years of district MEAP scores—math proficiency for third through eighth grade has increased significantly. Similarly, increases over the past five years were reported in reading despite a slight dip in sixth grade reading.
"It's just hard work," said Beth Zito, curriculum and student services director for the district. "Four years ago there was concern in our math curriculum it seemed too scattered. The teachers did not have an anchor in the kindergarten through fifth grade. Today we are consistent with the key principles. However, we are still light years from where we want to be. It's a continual process—we will never be at a point where we—as a district—have arrived."
"The MEAP scores are just one more piece of the puzzle with regard to eduction that we can use—it's more information we can look at to make improvements," she added. "We are fortunate to have Scott Bogner as superintendent—his consistency and vision for the district are making a big difference. He reminds us all that when it comes to educating students, 'all' means all students. Moreover, the parents of our students are great and essential partners in the education process. They have been very supportive and it shows."
Bogner said the key is a simple formula, yet a complex, ongoing process.
"We ask instructors— What do we want the students to know? How do we know they know it? What do we do if they don't know it? And, how do we extend the learning?" he said. "We have a very hard working staff who care about their students and their progress. Right now public education is in a crisis mode—less money, less time and more students in the classroom. We have a staff that wants to succeed despite these obstacles."
"We have to control what we can control," he added. "The magic in the classroom that's education and the instruction is what really matters—that's what we can hang our hat on. If there's a basket, that's what our eggs go in. We are going to focus on our kids—that's the direction of the district."
According to the State of Michigan website (michigan.gov), the MEAP tests were developed in the early 1970s to measure what Michigan educators believe all students should know and be able to achieve in five content areas: mathematics, reading, science, social studies, and writing. The test results paint a picture of how well Michigan students and Michigan schools are doing when compared to standards established by the State Board of Education. The MEAP test is the only common measure given statewide to all students.
However, student testing will take on a new look in the 2014-15 school year. A computer adaptive assessment will debut this spring, and students will be tested in the fall.
"We're not sure what the new test will be," said Zito. "My guess is it's going to be the Smarter Balanced testing. We were given the opportunity from the (Genesee) Intermediate School District to look at some sample questions. The type (of question) will show much more critical thinking—multiple steps in thinking.
According to the Michigan Education Association, Smarter Balance Standards in English, language arts/literacy and mathematics that are designed to help prepare all students to graduate high school/college and be career ready. The test questions will be aligned with the Common Core state standards and will range from multiple choice to essays.
"The ISD has had the opportunity to look at a sample of the test questions," said Zito.
"The types of questions students are required to answer will now show much more critical thinking—using multiple steps in the process. Much deeper meaning within the questions."