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State school officials say M-STEP scores are a success

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At least half of students in every grade scored “below proficient” on every subject of the M-STEP, this year’s state standardized test.

Still, the Michigan Department of Education is happy with the improvements that have been made.

The results show gains in two-thirds of the grades and subjects tested compared to last year.

Fifth, sixth, and eighth grade showed an improvement in English Language Arts, for example, with fifth graders improving by 1.9 percent. But social studies scores in all three grades tested were down, with fifth graders scoring more than 3 percent worse than last year.

Overall, improvements were generally limited to a percentage point or two. The MDE says this is good progress, while still recognizing there is work to be done.

Department spokesperson Bill DiSessa says Michigan is still on its way toward being a top-ten school in 10 years.

“When you have so many grades and subjects tested, there are always proficiency gains and some scores that we would like to see raised in the next assessment,” he said.

The test results come after recent criticism of standardized testing. Opponents say schools are too focused on the results and students spend too much time taking tests.

Janet Ellis with the MDE says the M-STEP is the department's only yardstick for measuring how well schools and students are doing.

“It also is the only assessment that is given statewide that is aligned to state standards,” she said. “And the state standards basically tell what students should know and be able to do by subject and grade level to be college and career ready when they graduate from high school.”

Successes were also found outside the test scores, the department says. The results came out faster than last year, and students spent less time testing this year.

This is the second year the MDE has used the M-STEP for its statewide testing of students in second through eighth grade.

The M-STEP also included the SAT test for 11th graders for the first time this year.

Michigan’s total average score for the SAT was 1001.2 out of 1600. Students did best in reading and writing.

You can view the entire report at the department’s website.

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