MEAP Results Up in Some Areas, Down in Science for Michigan Students

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Students taking the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test this school year fared slightly better statewide, according to official results released on Monday. The results are compiled and released by the Michigan Department of Education.

Monday's reports show that, on average, Michigan students made improvements in the reading, writing, and math portions of the test. Different portions of the MEAP's five testing areas -- reading, writing, science, social studies and math -- are administered to students each year, beginning in third grade and continuing until ninth grade.

Here is some of the key information that emerged on Monday regarding the new MEAP results and the testing process in general.

* In a press release on Monday, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said that the gains in reading, writing and math "demonstrate Michigan's teachers and students are rising to the rigorous standards established last year."

* Scoring for the MEAP test was revised for the 2011 school year, with the number of points necessary to achieve a "proficient" score raised dramatically, to achieve what officials said would be a more accurate assessment of students' abilities in key academic areas.

* Flanagan also said in the press release that he was "encouraged by the progress being made" and that he was looking "forward to the continued efforts to help all students achieve at a higher level in all subjects."

* Different portions of the MEAP are tested each grade level. Reading and math are tested every year between grades 3 through 8, while the other subjects -- science, social studies, and writing -- are only tested twice apiece between grades 3 and 9.

* Students are tested in writing in both grades 4 and 7, while science is tested in grades 5 and 8. Students are tested in social studies in grades 6 and 9.

* While Michigan students scored better on some areas of the MEAP, science scores declined from last year. According to the results released Monday, only 13.1 percent of all fifth-graders in the state scored well enough to be dubbed "proficient" in science, while only 15.9 percent of all eighth-graders received a proficient score. Those scores are 2.2 percent and 0.6 percent lower than last year's scores, respectively.

* As noted by the Detroit Free Press, more than half of all Michigan students do not score well enough to meet standards in math, while less than a third of all Michigan students score well enough to meet standards in social studies and science.

* The Detroit Free Press also noted that fewer students overall are passing the MEAP since the new standards were implemented in 2011.

* In 2015, parts of the MEAP are due to be replaced by a new test, dubbed the Smarter Balance Assessment, which is based on nationally-recognized academic standards.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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