Raising the barPublished 4:49pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011
School officials statewide are preparing for the likelihood that student proficiency levels on the MEAP, MME and ACT will take a significant hit when the new scores are released early next year.
It isn’t because students are performing worse on the tests, said Brandywine Supt. John Jarpe, it is because the Michigan Department of Education is raising the bar for what is considered proficient on the tests.
“In the past, a kid may have gotten four out of 10 right on a test and she was proficient,” Jarpe said. “Well, now they’ve raised the cut score and now that kid has to get seven out of 10 right to be proficient, which you would kind of expect.”
Buchanan Supt. Andrea van der Laan said the new cut scores are more reflective of national standards.
Jarpe and van der Laan expect student proficiency levels to drop not only in their own districts, but in districts throughout the state.
“In Buchanan, it will drop our reading (proficiency) scores by 20 percent,” van der Laan said. “What I’ve been trying to do is make sure the public is aware this is not a Buchanan issue, a Brandywine issue or Niles issue — it’s a statewide issue because the state never aligned their tests with the national tests and the national norms. Now that they are raising the bar we are all going to look like we are not doing what we thought we were doing right.”
Jarpe expects schools will receive criticism in the short term because of the drop in proficiency. In the long term, he said raising cut scores would benefit students.
“If you have been around education a long time, you know they’ve done this before,” he said. “Educators and schools have stepped up to it before and I think we can do it again.”
Van der Laan agrees.
“I truthfully want to know if my fourth-graders stack up every fourth-grader in the nation, not just in the state of Michigan,” she said. “For me, it is going to give a true picture of where my kids are scoring and then I can put in the interventions needed to get them boosted.”
Niles Community Schools Supt. Richard Weigel said he has known for a while that the data regarding the MEAP and MEE assessment scores was inflated and “not the best reflection of what students know or can do.”
He said Niles focuses more on assessment data gained from other tests, such as the Northwest Evaluation Association.