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Saline Students Best State, County MEAP Scores

Though Saline students bested state and county proficiency standards, scores were down because of new, tougher standards.

Saline Area Schools bested state and county averages in the 2011 MEAP results released this week by the Michigan Department of Education.

In every subject and every grade, Saline students were more likely to be "proficient" than their counterparts in Washtenaw County and Michigan.

But the 90-plus percent scores to which Saline parents have become accustomed are a thing of the past.

This past year, the state adopted new "cut scores" for the MEAP. With these more rigorous cut scores, students need to get roughly 65 percent of the answers correct to pass the state test, instead of the 39 percent that was the previous benchmark. According to the state, the new cut scores better reflect how well schools are preparing students for success at the next grade level and whether students are progressing at a level sufficient for them to be career- and college-ready when they complete their high school education. For comparison purposes, these scores have been applied to previous MEAP results that have been adjusted to account for the new standards.

Compared to adjusted 2010 scores, Saline saw positive gains in math and reading at Pleasant Ridge, Heritage and Harvest elementary schools. The results showed that math proficiency was down slightly at Saline Middle School. Heritage Elementary saw slight declines in writing and science.

Steve Laatsch is the assistant superintendent in charge curriculum at Saline Area Schools. He said the scores, once factored for the tougher standards, look par for the course for the district.

"It's similar to last year in that we went up in some categories and went down in a few others. The numbers don't look as great as they did with the new standards, but I believe we're right where we need to be, looking at our trends and the trends from Washtenaw County and the State of Michigan," Laatsch said.

The new standards lowered scores across the board, but especially in science and social studies—and this is the case across Michigan. Laatsch found it curious that the same students who did so well on English tests (79 percent of Saline eighth grade students were proficient) struggled to meet the standard on science tests (27 percent of eighth graders were proficient). Laatsch called the Michigan Department of Education and was told that the standards for science test were tougher because college science professors have higher standards than college English professors. Still, Laatsch said, he wondered how so Saline could perform so well on the science portions of the ACT test as juniors if they were deemed not proficient as eighth grade students.

"I looked at the revised test scores of the students from a few years ago and they were at 40 percent, and yet the same students, as juniors, scored well on ACT," Laatsch said. "So that leads me to believe that we're doing something that gets the students up to speed."

Laatsch said that the better MEAP scores in English and math, as compared to science and social studies, might simply be a case of students continuously building on things they've learned since early elementary education.

"In social studies, on the other hand, you might have a lesson on the solar system in fifth grade and never touch on it again until you see the test in eighth grade. Perhaps the tests are more about recall and memory," Laatsch said.

As well, Laatsch said, there could be a disconnect between the MEAP tests and the ACT tests.

Laatsch said the district uses trends in MEAP scores and data from several other tests to tweak curriculum. If a score falls of a cliff one year, the district isn't overly concerned, he said.

"But if we notice scores dropping two or three years in a row, then we'd look into it and see if there's something that needs to be adjusted," Laatsch said.

Despite the fact that Saline science scores are above Washtenaw and state averages, Laatsch said the district takes note of the low scores.

"These new scores are supposed to reflect whether we're preparing kids for college. That's our business. In Saline, 90-plus percent of our students go to college. It's our job to make sure they are prepared," Laatsch said. "It's one thing to get in to college, but the first year of college is when students are most likely to drop out. We want to do more to make sure they make it through freshman year."

Laatsch said test data helps districts make decisions that can help with that goal.

 

MEAP reading

Here's a look, grade by grade, at the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in the reading portion of the test.

School

Grade

2011

2010

Difference

Saline Area Schools

3

81

78.4

2.6

Harvest Elementary

3

82.9

80.8

2.1

Woodland Meadows

3

79.3

81.4

-2.1

Pleasant Ridge

3

80.4

72.6

7.8

Washtenaw

3

70.3

69.2

1.1

Michigan

3

62.4

63.2

-0.8

Heritage Elementary

4

82.2

81.1

1.1

Washtenaw

4

72.9

70

2.9

Michigan

4

67.7

63.5

4.2

Heritage Elementary

5

86.7

82.6

4.1

Washtenaw

5

75.8

73.2

2.6

Michigan

5

68.6

65.3

3.3

Saline Middle School

6

83.8

84

-0.2

Washtenaw

6

74.7

73.3

1.4

Michigan

6

67

63.2

3.8

Saline Middle School

7

85.1

80.6

4.5

Washtenaw

7

70.7

65.5

5.2

Michigan

7

59.7

55.6

4.1

Saline Middle School

8

78.9

81.2

-2.3

Washtenaw

8

71.4

65.5

5.9

Michigan

8

60.5

56

4.5

MEAP math

Here's a look, grade by grade, at the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in the math portion of the test.

School

Grade

2011

2010

Difference

Saline Area Schools

3

60.5

62.4

-1.9

Harvest Elementary

3

66.9

64.8

2.1

Woodland Meadows

3

50.9

62.7

-11.8

Pleasant Ridge

3

62.5

59.3

3.2

Washtenaw

3

48.3

45

3.3

Michigan

3

36.3

34.9

1.4

Heritage Elementary

4

70

65

5

Washtenaw

4

53.6

51.3

2.3

Michigan

4

39.9

29.6

10.3

Heritage Elementary

5

73.3

69.3

4

Washtenaw

5

53.8

52.4

1.4

Michigan

5

39.6

38.5

1.1

Saline Middle School

6

68.1

71

-2.9

Washtenaw

6

49.7

51.4

-1.7

Michigan

6

37.1

36.2

0.9

Saline Middle School

7

71.6

72.9

-1.3

Washtenaw

7

51.2

50.8

0.4

Michigan

7

37.2

35.9

1.3

Saline Middle School

8

61.4

65.9

-4.5

Washtenaw

8

47.9

45.8

2.1

Michigan

8

29.4

28.9

0.5

MEAP writing

Here's a look, grade by grade, at the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in the writing portion of the test.

School

Grade

2011

2010

Difference

Heritage Elementary

4

62.6

66.6

-4

Washtenaw

4

53

55.9

-2.9

Michigan

4

44.5

47.2

-2.7

Saline Middle School

7

62.5

62.8

-0.3

Washtenaw

7

58

57.4

0.6

Michigan

7

47.3

47.8

-0.5

MEAP science

Here's a look, grade by grade, at the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in the science portion of the test.

School

Grade

2011

2010

Difference

Heritage Elementary

5

31.5

34.5

-3

Washtenaw

5

26.4

21.7

4.7

Michigan

5

15.3

17.4

-2.1

Saline Middle School

8

26.7

20.5

6.2

Washtenaw

8

26.4

21.7

4.7

Michigan

8

16.5

14.9

1.6

MEAP social studies

Here's a look, grade by grade, at the percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in the social studies portion of the test.

School

Grade

2011

2010

Difference

Saline Middle School

6

44.6

47.6

-3

Washtenaw

6

37.8

36.5

1.3

Michigan

6

27.7

28.1

-0.4

Saline High School

9

55.1

57.5

-2.4

Washtenaw

9

42

45.3

-3.3

Michigan

9

28.7

33.2

-4.5

David Rhoads February 17, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Congratulations to the students and teachers, and also the parents and school staff who support them.

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