2014-03-06 / News

Fourth grade reading scores improve for yet another year

MEAP data shows fourth year for growth

LANSING – Reading test scores for Michigan fourth graders improved for the fourth consecutive year, the Michigan Department of Education reported today.

Results from the Fall 2013 Michigan Education Assessment Program are reflective of what children had learned the previous school year. Fourth-grade test scores indicate reading levels students had attained at the end of third grade.

“This is encouraging news that more students are reading at gradelevel by the end of the third grade,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “More work needs to be done, and I appreciate the hard work that teachers, parents, and students are putting in to continue this positive trend.”

Seventy percent of fourth graders in Michigan were proficient in reading in 2013, an increase from 68.1 percent in 2012; 67.7 percent in 2011; and 63.5 percent in 2010.

“Continued focus on reading skills starting from the youngest ages will help every child reading at grade level by the end third grade,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “We need to invest more in Early Childhood and At- Risk programming to keep moving the needle on reading proficiency.”

The Fall 2013 MEAP test was the final administration of the MEAP test in grades three through nine. It will be replaced by a new assessment to be administered in Spring 2015.

These MEAP results showed increases in reading for grades three, seven, and eight; with the largest gain coming in eighth grade, posting a 17-points increase of a fouryear span.

In other subjects:

* Math scores remained stable with grades six and seven, posting gains ranging from three to seven points over the past four years

* Writing scores were up for both grades it is administered (four and seven) in 2012-2013 and also since 2010; while science posted similar annual gains.

* Social studies scores fell about four points in both grades it is administered (six and nine) – part of a four-year downward trend with the exception of a one-year increase last year in grade six.

Michigan schools saw some overall improvements over the last four years, Flanagan said.

“The results also show teachers and students are rising to the challenge of our career and college ready standards. We’re on the right track looking at the big picture, especially when you consider some of the positive changes now in place or in place soon.”

Flanagan said those changes include Michigan’s adoption of Common Core State Standards, approved by the State Board of Education in 2010, supported by the state Legislature, and being aligned with locally-approved curricula; a newly-aligned assessment that will replace the MEAP; and a move to a more rigorous teacher certification test designed to ensure educators have the highest level of knowledge in their content areas.

“And students definitely would benefit from more instructional time,” Flanagan said. “Schools need to add more days of instruction to provide more learning time. Students can learn more in 190 or 200 days than they can in 175.”

Given to students each October to measure skills learned through the end of the previous year, the MEAP tested mathematics and reading in grades three through eight, science in grades five and eight, social studies in grades six and nine, and writing in grades four and seven.

The MEAP test was based on state education standards and has been the only common measure given statewide to students. Plans call for a new assessment to be fully rolled out in early 2015 that offers online testing availability; a measurement of student academic growth; and alignment with the state standards.

For Fall 2013, in mathematics, 40 percent of third-grade students and 45 percent of fourth- and fifthgraders were proficient. Mathematics proficiency was 42 percent for sixth-graders, 39 percent for seventh-graders and 35 percent for eighth-graders.

In science, 17 percent of fifthgraders and 20 percent of eighthgraders were proficient, while in writing, 51 percent of fourthgraders and 53 percent of seventhgraders were proficient. In social studies, 27 percent of sixth- and ninth-graders were proficient, but the scores fell three points in each grade compared to 2012 scores.

In social studies, 27 percent of sixth-graders and 26 percent of ninth-graders were proficient, compared with 30 percent and 29 percent, respectively, in 2012.

State test results also show a narrowing of the achievement gap between various populations of Michigan students. Many student groups made substantial longterm progress in several subjects, especially reading. The Students with Disabilities gap decreased in reading in every grade from two to nine points and in three grades in math. Hispanic, economically disadvantaged and limited Englishproficient students also narrowed the gap in reading.

Although the results of the fall 2013 MEAP assessments are being released publicly today, school districts in Michigan received their student-level results earlier, providing teachers with the ability to review and analyze those results at the earliest opportunity, and to use that information to provide targeted instruction to students.

While a majority of students in Michigan participate in the MEAP, it is not appropriate for some Students with Disabilities. For that reason, the state developed MIAccess, 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 based upon their consideration of the student’s cognitive functioning level, level of independence, curriculum and instruction.

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