Mixed on the MEAP: Some students improve in some areas, others stagnate

ESCANABA – Fall 2012 test results from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) indicate mixed results for students at Escanaba Area Public Schools; overall, students scored better in some areas and worse in others compared to 2011.

Escanaba Superintendent Michele Lemire presented members of the Escanaba School Board with this year’s MEAP results and how students compared to years’ past during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The MEAP test is based on a four-point scale. A “1” is advanced, “2” is proficient, “3” is partially proficient, and “4” is not proficient.

“This is the second year where we’re using the new cut scores and those cut scores have been designed to basically assess each student’s college readiness,” said Lemire. This aligns proficiency (either a score of “1” or “2”) more closely with the ACT test.

“We compared how our students did in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science from the 2011 school year to the 2012 school year,” she said. “Overall, I can tell you looking at the scores, third and fourth grade jumped – especially in math and reading particularly.” For instance, 36 percent of third grade students were at least proficient in math in 2011; this group of students improved to a 51 percent proficiency as fourth-graders in 2012. The same group increased one point from 73 to 74 percent proficient in reading when comparing its 2011 results to 2012’s.

However, Lemire noted the results of upper grade levels – fifth, sixth, and seventh grades – did not increase in the same manner as the lower grades.

“There’s some improvement in some areas, but not in others,” said Lemire. “So this is one area we’re going to continue to work in because we’re in the midst of aligning our scores and aligning our curriculum with the common core.”

Only 18 percent of Escanaba fifth-graders were at least proficient in math in 2011, a number that remained constant as sixth-graders in 2012, while the same group decreased from a 71 percent proficiency in reading to a 69 percent this year. However, proficiency increased by 10 percent – to 25 percent – in math for seventh graders this year from the previous year, while reading for this same grade dropped from a 70 to a 53 percent proficiency over the same period.

“In looking at how we did against the ISD and the state, again, third and fourth grade, we comparatively did better than the ISD and state, but once we get into the upper elementary grade levels, we noticed that we need to improve in those areas basically – especially in the area of math,” said Lemire.

After speaking with district MEAP coordinator Steve Martin and other principals from the district, she noted there are a number of things they can do in an effort to increase scores. One such way is through providing more instructional support.

“One of the things that came up was that we have to ensure a provision of instructional support,” said Lemire, who mentioned during the 2010-11 school year, the district cut some teachers and instructional support. Since that time, the district has done some things toward increasing support, such as adding one sixth grade section in the middle school last year.

“We continue to work instructionally by using some of the extra resources we get from Title I and 31a to make sure we use those to supplement,” said Lemire. “If students are having difficulty, we supplement and we attack the areas of need.”

The district must also look at instructional resources to find out what resources are the “best fit” for students to attain college readiness skills; an emphasis must also be placed on powerful, foundational strands to ensure students are fluent in various subjects, such as math and reading.

Continual monitoring of skills, particularly in reading and math, are important moving forward, said Lemire, noting the district would like to make sure there is more strategic intervention for the mathematic curriculum in the future.

In other business, the board:

authorized the purchase of two new school buses from Zaremba Equipment at the price of $83,399 apiece. Lemire said purchasing the buses will allow the district to maintain standardization and a consistent maintenance schedule of the district’s bus fleet.

adopted a Best Practices Resolution for the district meeting seven out of eight “best practices” as listed in Section 22f of the State School Aid Act, 2012 PA 201 to provide for a $52 per pupil allocation.

approved the addition of a one-hour cook helper to assist with the breakfast program at Lemmer Elementary School.

approved hiring of the following individuals: Kevin Walkey to fill an open bus driver position, Anna Krumrey for an open noon-hour supervisor position at Escanaba Upper Elementary School, and Barb Morrow for an open 1.5 hour noon-hour supervisor position at Lemmer Elementary.