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Report Shows: Academic Gains Made By Minorities In Michigan

Student reading scores on the statewide Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test rose in all grades compared to the previous year, while the disparity in academic performance between groups of students has narrowed significantly compared to 2005, the Michigan Department of Education announced today. 

Students gained three to eight percent in every grade except fourth, where the gain was one percent. Ninety percent of third graders, 84 percent of fourth graders and 85 percent of fifth grade students attained basic proficiency. Students in sixth grade climbed from 80 to 88 percent, seventh graders increased three points to 82 percentage and eighth graders increased from 76 to 83 percent.

For the fifth consecutive year since Michigan began implementing more rigorous K-8 Grade Level Content Expectations, math scores for students in grades 3-6 have continued to rise. The largest gains occurred among low-income students, students of color, those with Limited English Proficiency, and Students With Disabilities.

Topping the achievement for students on the math test, 95 percent of Michigan third graders attained basic proficiency in math, while 92 percent of fourth graders, 79 percent of fifth graders, and 82 percent of sixth graders also met the basic proficiency levels set for math. Math scores for seventh and eighth graders declined slightly after four consecutive years of growth.

"A world-class education is critical for our children in the 21st century economy," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "These all are very positive trends - and our kids' academic achievements are significant to the success of our state as we continue to move forward to grow and diversify our state's economy."

In math and reading, students are tested on curriculum standards, known as Grade Level Content Expectations, implemented in the 2004-05 school year. They have been recognized by independent reviewers across the nation to be among the most rigorous standards in the country.

"These are the results we have been expecting when we established statewide curriculum standards and base our tests on those standards," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said. "Teachers have more clarity on the basic standards that students should know and understand, and when they are taught and learned, students can achieve."

A five-year comparison of MEAP reading scores show students in all grades and student groups made gains in reading from 2005 to 2009. Only one group, Limited English Proficient students in fourth grade, showed a slight decline.

The reading achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed, especially for third, sixth and eighth grade students from 2005 to 2009. The largest decrease for both groups occurred in eighth grade where the achievement gap between white and African-American students was closed from 26.4 percentage points in 2005 to 10.4 in 2009. The gap between white and Hispanic eighth grade students declined from 21.5 percentage points in 2005 to 11.1 in 2009.

A five-year comparison of MEAP math scores also reveals students in all grades and all student groups showed gains. The largest proficiency gains occurred in grade seven were African-American, Hispanic, and Economically Disadvantaged students and Students With Disabilities increased 30 percentage points or more.         

The math achievement gap between white students and students of color narrowed by over 10 percentage points for students in most grades from 2005 to 2009. The largest decrease for both groups occurred in seventh grade where the achievement gap between white and African-American students was cut from 41 percentage points in 2005 to 25 percentage points in 2009. The gap between white and Hispanic seventh grade students reduced from 27.1 percentage points in 2005 to 12.3 in 2009.    

The Fall 2009 MEAP results also include scores in the subject areas of science and social studies. In science, tested in grades five and eight, the percentage of students scoring at proficient or above dropped, compared to previous years. Eighty-one percent of fifth graders attained proficiency in science, compared to 83 percent in Fall 2008 and 81 percent in fall 2007.  Seventy-six percent of eighth graders attained proficiency compared to 77 percent in Fall 2008 and 79 percent in Fall 2007.

Social studies, tested at grades six and nine, saw one-percent decreases in scores over the previous year with 73 percent of sixth graders attaining proficiency compared to 74 percent in 2008, and 71 percent of ninth graders attaining proficiency compared to 72 percent the previous year.

In Fall 2009, Michigan administered a pilot of a new writing test for grades four and seven only, replacing the former writing assessment which tested students in grades 3-8.  By reducing the number of grade levels tested, the state will be able to concentrate resources on a longer, more robust assessment, providing more information and, accordingly, a more complete picture of the writing skills possessed by Michigan students.  The new writing test will be administered for the first time in Fall 2010.  Whereas the previous writing test had 23 points, the new writing test will have 50 points, and will give much better information to teachers and parents about what students know and can do in the area of writing.

All MEAP scores are divided into four performance levels: Not Proficient, Partially Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced. Students who place in either the Proficient or Advanced levels are considered to be "proficient or above" in that subject. Proficiency measures a student at a basic level of knowledge in a given curriculum area. Michigan students are tested each October on skills learned through the end of the previous year.

While a majority of students in Michigan participate in the MEAP, it is not appropriate for some Students with Disabilities (SWD). For that reason, the state developed MI-Access, the state's alternate assessment program.

There are three MI-Access assessments in which students with disabilities can take part: Participation; Supported Independence; and Functional Independence.  The assessment a student takes is determined by that student's Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT) based upon their consideration of the student's cognitive functioning level, level of independence, curriculum and instruction. 

MEAP Test Results


Contact:  Martin Ackley, Director of Communications 517-241-4395 


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