October 23, 2014

Area schools show significant drop-offs in MME

AE outperforms SSC, AGS

By John Fischer|Staff Writer
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ARENAC COUNTY — Students from Standish-Sterling Central High School, AuGres-Sims High School and Arenac Eastern High School all took the Michigan Merit Exam and the results of the test have recently been released by the Michigan Department of Education.

MME is a standard assessment examination taken by high school juniors in the spring and it collectively tests in math, reading, science, social studies, writing and English/language arts. While the MME isn’t attributable to any kind of funding, it is — combined with the American College Testing (ACT) — the chief tool used to assess each school’s alignment with the state’s constantly updating curriculum.

Standish-Sterling Central

Standish-Sterling (SSC) Instructional Director Roger Anderson says the 2009 results were “very disappointing,” as SSC dropped, on average, seven-percent in each category and scored at or above proficient levels, compared to state percentages, in only social studies.

“We (SSC) go back five years to see if there are any trends and we thought we had an upward trend,” he said, signifying the school’s administration expected improved results over last year.

“It could be an anomaly,” Anderson said. “We put a number of [programs] in place but because of this year’s scores, there’ll be some major changes.”

He also says this year’s incoming senior class has struggled academically in comparison to other classes.

According to Anderson, the school is using federal stimulus dollars to implement a Title I literacy coach, which may assist in future MMEs.

“A literacy teacher cuts across all content areas (of the MME),” he said. “You have to be able to read and write to do math and science.”

When looking at the historical drop-off in proficiency levels from elementary to high school, by comparing the MME results to Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) results for the same class, Anderson offers a few possible explanations.

“The problem is, when the MME came along with the ACT, SSC [and the state] used the Michigan Curriculum Framework program and now it’s been switched to the High School Content Expectations program,” he said, adding this indicates that a shift in programs has made it difficult to effectively institute and improve preparations for the tests.

He also says the design of high school textbooks is a problem in Michigan.

“Textbooks are not aligned with Michigan curriculum,” the instructional director said. “Most textbooks are made in California and Texas… And are written by college professors on a variety of broad topics.

“We (SSC) try to get our teachers to emphasize assessment areas [in the textbooks]. You can’t teach 600 pages in one year.”

He also says Japanese textbooks are roughly one-third the size of those in America and focus more in-depth on less areas.

“Until the Michigan Legislature gets around to contracting publishers to write books for our (Michigan) curriculum, we’re probably going to keep seeing these problems,” Anderson said. “It’s a top-down change going on in Michigan’s education system and we’re not really getting the support we need to realign ourselves with the state’s curriculum.”

If none of those explanations are satisfactory, Anderson says some high school students simply have more of a negative attitude about learning than elementary students.

“They might say ‘I’m not going to college anyway’ or something like that,” he said.

However, Anderson says, the district is very aware of test scores and that’s what planning for interventions and extra support.

SSC had 34 fewer students take the MME in 2009.

Arenac Eastern

The results for Arenac Eastern were mixed when compared to state averages and last year’s results.

According to the MME stats, in math, AE scored 45-percent proficiency; reading, 59-percent; writing, 36-percent; and ELA, 45-percent; scores were lower than the state average by four, one, eight and seven-percent respectively.

In science, AE had 64-percent proficiency; and social studies, 84-percent; those scores were above the state averages by eight and three-percent respectively.

Compared to last year’s scores, Arenac Eastern’s incoming seniors scored lower in math, by nine-percent; reading, by four-percent; writing, by 10-percent; and ELA, by nine-percent; while scoring higher in science, by 18-percent; and staying flat in social studies, at 84-percent proficiency.

Two fewer students took the MME in 2009 than in 2008.

AuGres-Sims

The results for AuGres-Sims (AGS) show that students scored better in all areas with the exceptions of science and social studies.

Students scored a 44-percent proficiency rating in math, up seven-percent from 2008; 59-percent in reading, up 17-percent; 31-percent in science, down 22-percent; 78-percent in social studies, up seven-percent; 19-percent in writing, down seven-percent; and 38-percent in ELA, up six-percent.

However, all AGS scores were still below state averages except for reading, which was on par with state scores. Science, writing and ELA were well below the state average.

There were six fewer students who took the test this year compared to 2008.

Representatives from AuGres-Sims and Arenac Eastern school districts did not return phone calls from the Arenac Independent by the time of this publication.

To see scores for Arenac Eastern, click here.

To see scores for AuGres-Sims, click here.

To see scores for Standish-Sterling Central, click here.

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