Student achievement on the 2012 Michigan Merit Examination (MME) shows positive one-year gains and even larger four-year gains in mathematics, reading, writing, and science, the Michigan Department of Education recently reported.
The overall composite scores for Michigan high school juniors on the ACT college-entrance exam also increased for the fourth consecutive year, as did the percentage of Michigan students who are career- and college-ready.
"Building a stronger and more vibrant future for Michigan begins in the classrooms across this state," said Governor Rick Snyder. "We must equip students with the skills to succeed in this global economy. While we have more work to do, our state is moving in the right direction. Let's continue to build on these achievements for the good of our state and our children."
The largest gains on the MME occurred in reading and writing. Reading saw an average one-year increase of 3 percent and a four-year increase of nearly 7 percent; writing saw an average one-year increase of 2.5 percent and an average four-year increase of 6 percent. These increases resulted in 55.9 percent of tested students attaining proficiency in reading and 49.5 percent attaining proficiency in writing statewide.
Mathematics and science also showed positive gains, with mathematics increasing an average of 1.8 percent over last year and 3.4 percent over the past four years (for a 2012 average percent proficiency rate of 29.1 percent statewide); and science increasing just slightly over last year (0.3 percent), but increasing an average of 3.8 percent over the past four years (resulting in a 2012 average percent proficiency rate of 25.8 percent statewide).
High school juniors who took the MME this past spring represent the third junior class that is required by law to complete the new, more rigorous Michigan high school graduation requirements. The two-credit world language requirement will take effect for the graduating class of 2016, with schools being allowed to give world language credits to students in middle or elementary school grades.
"The impact of having students engage in the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum is evident here," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "When students have the benefit of learning higher-level subject material, more will become career- and college-ready and prepared for success."
"We have to make sure we keep motivating all students with a challenging curriculum, and not give in to thinking that our kids just can't do it. They can and they are," Flanagan added.
Flanagan said that schools and students need to better understand the importance and relevance of social studies, which show the percentage of high school students scoring proficient is dipping slightly from last year (0.7 percent), but shows a larger four-year decline of 1.6 percent. However, even with this minor decline, 40.5 percent of students are proficient in social studies.
The MME is given each spring to 11th grade students and is administered over a three-day period. Students take the ACT Plus Writing® college entrance exam on Day 1, WorkKeys® job skills assessment on Day 2, and the Michigan components of mathematics, science, and social studies on Day 3.
The Day 1 administration of the ACT Plus Writing® provides students with the opportunity to receive college-reportable scores needed to apply for college entrance. Of the more than 108,000 Michigan students who took the MME this spring, the average ACT score rose in all categories (e.g., English (18.3 to 18.7), reading (19.2 to 19.5), mathematics (19.5 to 19.7), overall composite score (19.4 to 19.6), except science which remained static at 19.9.
An additional important measure that is included on Governor Snyder's Education Dashboard is the percentage of students meeting the ACT college-ready benchmark on all four ACT-tested subjects (English, reading, mathematics, and science). The percentage of students meeting the benchmark in all subjects has continued to rise steadily over the past four years (from 15.2 percent in 2009 to 17.7 percent in 2012).
While nearly all student population groups are making gains in the percent proficient (in all subjects except social studies), the gap in achievement between student groups is remaining static or widening slightly. This is due to some student populations making gains in percent proficient at a pace beyond what other student groups have experienced over the same four-year time period.
In their recently-adopted Goal and Reform Priorities for 2012-2013, the State Board of Education and Michigan Department of Education amplified the focus to "close academic achievement gaps, with an initial focus on rapidly improving the academic outcomes of African-American males for whom data show are Michigan's persistently lowest-achieving group."
"We have shameful gaps in achievement for various student populations not only in test scores, but also in graduation, college access and success, and student suspensions and expulsions," Flanagan said. "We cannot simply accept these as how things are. We need to end this disparity in education and we need to do this together as a state."
A Parent Report outlining individual student achievement on the MME is provided for each student tested. Schools are directed to distribute the MME Parent Report to parents/guardians as soon as possible after printed hard copy reports are received at the school.
Last year, the state adopted improved "cut scores" for the MME that represented more rigorous career- and college-ready achievement standards. Cut scores are used to define a student's performance level (i.e., Advanced, Proficient, Partially Proficient, or Not Proficient).
The career- and college-ready cut scores were applied operationally to MME results for the first time this year. Even with these more rigorous achievement standards in place, Michigan students are continuing to make gains and the percentage of students attaining proficiency (e.g., achieving a performance level of Advanced or Proficient) is continuing to rise in four of the five tested subjects.
While the vast majority of high school students in Michigan participate in the MME, it is not appropriate for some students with disabilities. For these students, Michigan's alternate assessment program, MI-Access, is appropriate.
There are three levels of MI-Access: Participation, Supported Independence, and Functional Independence. Which assessment level is appropriate for an individual student is determined by the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.
Each spring, Michigan students with limited English proficiency are administered the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) which measures proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking the English language. Those results also are being released today.
To view MME results, go to www.michigan.gov/mischooldata
. Results can also be accessed from the MME webpage by visiting www.michigan.gov/mme
and selecting "MME Test Results" or "Downloadable Data Files" from the menu along the left side of the webpage.
To view ELPA results, go to the ELPA webpage at www.michigan.gov/elpa
and select "ELPA Test Results" from the menu along the left side of the page.