Source: Sherman Publications

MME, ACT scores mixed bag

by Trevor Keiser

July 17, 2013

Despite some slight improvements in a number of subject areas, Dr. James Schwarz, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction is “disappointed with how Oxford students scored on the 2013 Michigan Merit Exam (MME), which is administered annually to high school juniors, and the ACT college entrance exam

“Certainly we’d like to . . . .see sharper increases in our scores,” said Schwarz, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “It’s a continual work in progress.”

How did Oxford do on the MME?

Looking at the district as a whole, which includes Oxford High School, Crossing Bridges, and Oxford Virtual Academy, Oxford went up one percent in writing, math and science and down eight percent in reading and down five percent in social studies from last year to this year.

Schwarz said they are not happy to see the downward swing in reading and have been putting systems in place to assist with that.

“We’re analyzing that from the perspective of looking at how we integrate more in terms of teaching reading skills within the content areas throughout their coursework,” he said. “Instead of having alone courses in reading, they’re getting reading instruction in the midst of social studies and reading instruction in science.”

However Schwarz said it’s too early to tell if whether the interventions they’ve put in place such as ARI (Accelerated Reading Initiative) are working as it relates to standardized testing because the group they initiated those programs with will be taking those standardized tests for the first time this next year.

Just like with the reading, Schwarz said with social studies they have to go back and analyze and find out what misconceptions are going on. “It’s always something we got to take a hard look, analyze and view what trends are taking place,” he added.

While it’s not an excuse for why they aren’t doing better, Schwarz did note that teachers are in a juggling act between current standardized testing MEAP and MME and preparing for the new standardized testing known as the Common Core. The Common Core is set to begin in the spring of 2015.

“In some instances as we’ve retooled our curriculum we’ve aligned them to what are the national standards and what is going to be the new test coming out,” he explained. “That plays into some of what we’re seeing a little bit, but certainly we don’t like to see the drops that we’ve had and we want to minimize those and work towards eliminating those.”

On a plus side, they were happy to see that even district wide scores that included “alternative education settings” outside of Oxford High School that they were above the state average in all areas. However, district wide they were below the county average in every area.

“We fell middle the pack in the county as far as terms of performance regardless of the subject and certainly we want to be greater than that,” Schwarz said.

How did Oxford do in ACT?

District-wide they improved composite improved slightly along with English, match and science remained the same. Meanwhile, writing and reading went down slightly, which is not a surprise said Schwarz, since reading went down on the MME.

However, looking at trending data over the past several years, Schwarz said they do seem to be increasing in all subjects. “It’s not ultimately where we want it to be,” he said. “But it’s a step in the right direction.”

“We look at the college readiness standards that ACT puts out and we look at our instructional alignment to those readiness standards and we try to embed that in the core courses primarily at the high school,” Schwarz continued. I think we’ve had some good success with that.”

MME Average Comparisons

2012 Oxford County State

Reading 65 62 56

Writing 54 58 49

Math 28 39 29

Social Studies 48 47 41

Science 29 34 26

2013 Oxford County State

Reading 57 60 54

Writing 55 59 49

Math 29 38 29

Social Studies 43 46 39

ACT Average Comparisons

2012 Oxford County State

English 19.2 20.3 18.7

Math .19.5 21 19.5

Reading 20.4 20.6 19.7

Science 20.5 21 19.9

Composite 20 20.8 19.6

2013 Oxford County State

English 19.3 20.2 18.7

Math 19.9 20.9 19.5

Reading 20.4 20.7 19.7

Science 20.5 21.1 19.9

Composite 20.1 20.8 19.6