MEAP scores show mixed results

Despite the warnings that Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) scores released publicly last week would be drastically impacted by a new grading scale, state Department of Education (MDE) officials are now saying that Michigan elementary and middle school students showed improvement in their math and reading scores.

All school district scores are available at .

There was a 3 percent increase in reading scores and a 1 percent increase in math scores on tests taken last fall by third through eighth graders. The scores, however, do show a drop in science, social studies and writing proficiency.

MDE retroactively applied the new cut scores to previous years to facilitate comparisons.  The fall 2011 results show 36.3 percent of third graders statewide were proficient in math compared to 34.8 percent in 2010. Reading scores ranged from 59.7 to 68.8 percent depending on the grade level.

The new cut scores were put in place to reflect more accurately whether students are on track to be successful in college or post-high school careers. Now, students need to get 65 percent of answers correct to pass the MEAP. Previously, 39 percent was passing.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), all students must be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by 2014. MDE is still planning to apply for a waiver that would allow Michigan to lower that expectation to 85 percent by 2021. So far, 10 states--Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee--have received waivers.

In another change, teachers have had the test scores since December which gave them a head start on making changes to instruction.

It's important to send the message to school leaders and parents that these test scores are not a reliable measure of student achievement or teacher effectiveness. These scores are just a snapshot of what happens on one test given on one day. They don't reflect other factors which influence academic achievement and shouldn’t be used as the only judge of what's going on in our schools.