MEAP scores down, but some see silver lining

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles Community Schools has finally received the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test scores for 2002/2003.
The test scores, which arrived months late, show the district one percent above state average in fourth grade math.
They show the district a little below average in most categories, and way below the state average in 11th grade Language Arts, at 48 percent.
The fourth grade math state average is 65 percent and the 11th grade Language Arts average is 64.
School administrators, however, are overall excited about the MEAP scores.
The AYP is the formula through which MEAP scores are evaluated by the federal government and is used to decide what schools meet No Child Left Behind Act standards.
This is the first year schools are being measured against the new standards.
Craig, however, said the MEAP scores are not a percentage of the answers students got right, but a percentage of the students who passed MEAP objectives and passed or exceeded the standard set by the state.
Craig thinks the school district has a good history of using MEAP information the way it's supposed to be used; which is to make adjustments in the curriculum and attack areas students aren't doing so well in.
He said the latest MEAP results show good evidence that curriculum changes are reflected in the school district's scores.
But some areas the school district is less than satisfied with.
That's why the district's middle and high school students are currently using a completely restored language arts curriculum to ensure better learning.
Craig, however, has issues with how MEAP scores are used by the federal government to decide what schools in Michigan meet No Child Left Behind standards because each state uses different tests with different standards.
And, he's not the only one to critical to the new standards.
Doug Law, the school district's superintendent, said the essence of No Child Left Behind is that by 2014, the AYP minimum score is going to be 100.
Law also criticizes how the 1,000-page act was passed by congress without enough time being spent by lawmakers to evaluate possible problems the new act could create for schools.
Law is also critical to the fact that special education students have to meet the AYP minimum.
He said they have to take exactly the same test as all other students.
In a couple of weeks, the school district will receive the AYP report that shows how each sub-group did.
The district will also receive its Education Yes school report card next week, which is Michigan's school accreditation plan.
He said the immediate value of being able to adjust the curriculum based on the MEAP scores has somewhat been lost.
The MEAP scores were supposed to arrive in May.

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