September 2, 2014

Area schools see overall improvement in MEAP scores

Still have work to do to reach goals

Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — All three Arenac County school districts saw improvements in many of their Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) scores, but acknowledged there was still work to do to reach their goals.

The MEAP tests are taken in grades 3-9, and while which specific tests differ from year to year, they cover subjects including math, science, reading, writing, and social studies. In all, there are 18 tests taken by students each year the MEAP tests occur.

Standish-Sterling Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski, who is also serving as interim superintendent for Arenac Eastern, said SSC was up district-wide in 11 categories and down in six, compared to last year. The district is also even in one category, he said.

Against the state averages, SSC was above the state in six categories, below it in 10, and even in two tests.

“According to the state, we’ve got work to do,” Kroczaleski said. “But on a district level we’re moving in the right direction.”

He said SSC had gains in their fifth-grade reading, math and science scores, but sixth grade was generally down. In seventh grade, they had larger gains in reading and writing alongside a smaller improvement in math.

Generally speaking, Kroczaleski said that SSC needed to improve on its math across all grades to reach the new state standards, though he noted the school has been doing better in that area.

“Overall we had more gains than setbacks, but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

“A lot of times these tests can be misleading, because it’s not that teachers and districts aren’t teaching math, but you have to make sure you’re teaching according to what the assessment is assessing.”

In Arenac Eastern, Guidance Counselor Allen Pauly said the school is up from last year’s scores in 14 out of the 18 categories, and was above state averages in nine out of the 18 categories.

“We showed some real improvement this year. Not in all categories, but in many of them,” Pauly said. “We always look for favorable results, but never know what you’re going to get until they come out.”

AE saw its greatest improvements across the board in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade, Pauly said, and the school came in above the state average in seventh grade writing.

In contrast, he said that middle school math was something the school would need to work on more going forward.

Since the state is moving to the “common core” standards by 2015, it introduces a new wrinkle that Kroczaleski said all teachers need to work with for their curriculum. As such, teachers need to align their existing curriculums with the new state standards while avoiding any pacing gaps that may come up in the process. Since they are still also using the older state standards as well, they have to blend the two for their classes.

At Au Gres-Sims, Superintendent Jeff Collier said their strongest area were the upper elementary grades, notably math, reading, writing and social studies. The school had had five of the highest scores in the region and in the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District in those tests.

He noted that seventh grade and the middle school as a whole is an area they are trying to improve, with science in particular something the school wants to focus on.

“We still have work to do as far as maintaining proficiency with the state,” Collier said. “So even though we’re excited about the high numbers, we’re still very focused on using this data to determine our decisions going forward to find areas to strengthen within our curriculum.”

Collier said after receiving the MEAP results, the he and Principal Chad Zeien met with teachers Feb. 13 to go over the results and find trends in the curriculum where they could improve their efforts for the rest of the school year.

“We are focusing on making sure we identify any gaps in our curriculum, and strengthen those areas as we move to implement the common core state standards,” he said.

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