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MEAP Math and Reading Scores Climb since Rigorous Standards Adopted; Achievement Gaps Narrow
March 31, 2011
"Our students need and deserve a high quality education and the best possible preparation more than ever in today's knowledge-based economy and world," Governor Rick Snyder said. "Establishing rigorous standards and being accountable in part through performance assessments are critical beginnings in realizing a first-rate education for every student that will help drive Michigan's reinvention and economic transformation."
A six-year comparison of third through eighth grade math and reading MEAP scores shows student proficiency in math climbed six to 25 percent with the largest gains occurring among females, low-income students, students of color, those with Limited English Proficiency, and Students With Disabilities. During that period, reading scores grew as much as nine percent, with the largest gains taking place among students of color and low-income students. Students also made gains in fifth and eighth grade science. Sixth and ninth grade social studies scores declined slightly over the six-year period, but have shown increases in two of the past three years.
Topping the achievement for students on the Fall 2010 math test, 95 percent of Michigan third graders attained basic proficiency, while 92 percent of fourth graders, 85 percent of sixth and seventh graders and nearly 80 percent of fifth and eighth graders students attained basic proficiency.
MEAP 2010 reading results show the percentage of students scoring proficient or higher held steady in grades 4 and 5 with 84% and 85% attaining those levels respectively, the same as in the previous year. Percentages show overall growth since 2005 but dipped this year to 87% in grade 3, 84% in grade 6, 79% in grade 7, and 82% in grade 8.
All MEAP scores are divided into four performance levels: Not Proficient, Partially Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced. Students who place in either the Proficient or Advanced levels are considered to be "proficient or above" in that subject.
Proficiency measures a student at a basic level of knowledge in a given curriculum area. To ensure Michigan students move beyond a basic skill level to becoming career and college ready, achievement standards are in the process of being adjusted and likely will cause proficiency rates to decline.
"We want to provide an authentic view of where students are academically," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "We wanted to give schools the opportunity to fully implement the more rigorous content expectations, then properly adjust the achievement standards "cut scores" to reflect whether students are on-track to career- and college-readiness.
"This six-year analysis shows that all students are progressing," Flanagan said, "and even with the adjusted MEAP scores dropping because of the recalibrated cut scores, we still will see that student scores have shown continued growth over the past several years."
Although the results from the Fall 2010 MEAP tests are being released today, schools have had their student-level results since December, so teachers have been able to analyze the results and provide targeted instruction for students.
Paper copies of MEAP Parent Reports containing individual student results began shipping to school this week and should be available in all schools within the next couple of weeks. If parents or guardians have not received their students' MEAP results within the next few weeks, they should contact their school for a copy of the results.
The math achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed an average of 12 to 14 percentage points for students in most grades from 2005 to 2010. The largest decrease for both groups occurred in seventh grade where the achievement gap between white and African-American seventh graders reduced from 41 percentage points in 2005 to 21 percentage points in 2010. The gap between white and Hispanic students dropped from a 27 percentage point gap in 2005 to 10 percentage point gap in 2010. The gap between all students and Students With Disabilities also closed, especially in third and fourth grades where gaps declined from 15.1 to 6.6 and 22.3 to 14 percentage points respectively.
The reading achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed, especially for fifth and seventh grade students in the past six years. The largest decrease for both groups occurred in eighth grade, where the achievement gap between white and African-American students was closed from 26.4 percentage points in 2005 to 7.9 in 2010. The gap between white and Hispanic eighth grade students declined from 21.5 percentage points in 2005 to 10.1 in 2010.
"Increasing the achievement levels of all students will level the playing field for education attainment and employability," Flanagan said. "This progress is due in large part to talented teachers who expect all students to achieve."
The Fall 2010 MEAP results also include scores in the subject areas of science and social studies. Science, tested in grades five and eight, the percentage of students scoring at proficient or above increased for eighth grade students and dropped slightly for fifth graders, compared to last year. Seventy-eight percent of fifth graders attained proficiency in science, compared to 81 percent in 2009. Seventy-eight percent of eighth graders attained proficiency compared to 76 percent in 2009, a two percent increase.
Social studies, tested at grades six and nine, saw two percent increases in scores over the previous year with 75 percent of sixth graders attaining proficiency compared to 73 percent in 2009, and 73 percent of ninth graders attaining proficiency compared to 71 percent the previous year.
Following pilot testing in Fall 2009, Michigan administered a new writing test for grades four and seven, replacing the former writing assessment that tested students in grades three through eight. The previous writing test had 23 possible points, whereas the new writing test has 50 points. By reducing the number of grade levels tested and increasing the scope and breath of the test, the state is able to concentrate resources on a longer, more robust assessment, providing more information to teachers and parents about what students know and can do in the area of writing.
In the new writing test, which also sets a higher standard of proficiency, 47% of fourth graders and 48% of seventh graders scored in the proficient or advanced levels. Because the test is new, comparison scores from previous years are not feasible.
The MEAP test is based on state education standards and is the only common measure given statewide to students. The test is given each fall on skills learned through the end of the previous year. It is designed to measure what Michigan educators, employers and parents believe all students should know and be able to achieve in five content areas: mathematics, reading, science, social studies, and writing. Math and reading tests are given annually to third through eighth grade students. Students are tested twice per subject from fourth through ninth grade on a rotating basis beginning with writing in fourth and seventh, science in fifth and eighth and social studies in grades six and nine.
While a majority of students in Michigan participate in the MEAP, it is not appropriate for some Students with Disabilities (SWD). For that reason, the state developed MI-Access, the state's alternate assessment program.
There are three MI-Access assessments in which students with disabilities can take part: Participation; Supported Independence; and Functional Independence. The assessment a student takes is determined by that student's Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT) based upon their consideration of the student's cognitive functioning level, level of independence, curriculum and instruction.
This year, Michigan piloted items for a new alternate assessment, MEAP-Access, designed to better assess students with disabilities who might have traditionally scored either very low on the MEAP assessment or very high on the MI-Access Functional Independence Assessment. In either case, this yielded results that did not inform instruction well. The new MEAP-Access assessment will administered in the fall of 2011, please visit www.michigan.gov/meap-access for more information.
To view complete MEAP results, go to and click on "MEAP Test Results" link on the left side of the page. To view complete MI-Access results, go to www.michigan.gov/mi-access and click on "MI-ACCESS Test Results" link on the left side of the page.
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