February 8, 2016

County schools planning methods to prepare students for higher state test standards

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com

ARENAC COUNTY – With the state adopting new, tougher proficiency standards for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) and Michigan Merit Exam (MME) tests this year, school districts in Arenac County have been making efforts to improve student preparation for the tests.

The State Board of Education raised the cut scores for the 2011-2012 school year with the goal of better preparing students for technical school, college, or simply the next grade level.

Students in third through ninth grades took the MEAP and MME this past October. Though scores for this year’s tests will not be available for several months, school districts previewed what the results might look like in November, when the new standards were applied to last year’s test scores, causing them to fall dramatically.

“We’ve had quite a few meetings with the staff about the scores,” said Arenac Eastern School District Superintendent Bill Grusecki. “We’re trying to get more parent involvement and trying to get kids to be more serious about their education.”

To that end, Grusecki believes it will be important to have students working on educational materials outside of school, whether it is practice sheets of math problems, reading books, or writing in a journal.

He added better organizational skills for students were important, allowing them to spend more time doing schoolwork more effectively.

AuGres-Sims School District Superintendent Gary Marchel said the drop in scores from last year’s revised numbers was not a shock.

“We knew not everyone (was) going to do as well as they had,” Marchel said. “The cut scores were inflated in the past.”

Nevertheless, Marchel believes the school district can use the drop in scores to determine major areas to work on. He believes that aligning the district’s curriculum with the state’s “common core” curriculum standards, which focus on college and work expectations, will help students do better on the state exams.

“If everyone drops, you know where the problems are,” he added.

Grusecki believes the key is more parental involvement, however.

“No matter where you’re at, the more parents buy into how important education is, the more they will push their kids to do better,” he said.

Standish-Sterling Community Schools Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said his school district is continually monitoring improvement plans to its educational program, and meets at the beginning of each school year to discuss improvements.

“We have anywhere from three to six goals for school improvement plans,” Kroczaleski said. He said the plans involve workshops, meetings, and curriculum tweaks.


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