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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Portage Students NOT Reading at Grade Level

I have recently stated that Portage Schools has nearly 25% of our students reading below grade level. Today, the MEAP scores were posted showing Portage scores in the 90 percent passing rate. How can both statements be true?
2008 2009 2010 Change from 2009

3rd grade reading 94% 96% 94.30% -1%

4th grade reading 94% 94% 93% -1%

5th grade reading 93% 95% 91.9% -3%

6th grade reading 93% 96% 92% -4%

7th grade reading 91% 92% 89.8% -3%

8th grade reading 86% 88% 91.9% 4%

Here are the test scores as published. In addition, note that we had four elementary buildings report 100% passing rates for reading. First let me acknowledge and recognize this level of achievement. Clearly, even though the overall numbers are mixed, there are areas where we are making notable improvement.
The disconnect in the data is in the process the State of Michigan uses to define passing. The State of Michigan DOES NOT DEFINE MEAP PASSING AT A LEVEL EQUIVALENT TO READING AT GRADE LEVEL. This is incredibly important for parents to understand. In order to be certain your child is reading at grade level, they need to score a “1” on the MEAP. A “2”, which is considered passing, is NOT necessarily reading at grade level for 3rd through 5th grade. When you hear the discussion about changing “cut” scores, this is what it means to you.
Why should you believe what I am saying? Well, Michigan’s State Superintendent of Schools is saying the same thing. Quoted in today’s press,
Michael Flanagan, the Michigan state school superintendent, in comments from a press release, acknowledged that an increase in the cut scores will cause proficiency rates to drop. But he said it's necessary to "move beyond a basic skill level to becoming career and college ready ..."
"We want to provide an authentic view of where students are academically," Flanagan in the statement.

From The Detroit News:

As the School Board has visited the individual buildings, we have discovered that our principals know this to be true. I commend them for recognizing the problem and beginning to work on really helping our children read at grade level.

If you are not a parent, why should this matter to you? Well, did you know that states predict the number of jail cells needed in 20 years based on the number of third graders who cannot read at grade level? Children who cannot read at grade level in third grade are less likely to graduate and more likely to end up in jail. We should all care!! This is a huge problem even in good school districts like Portage. 25% of a big district like ours is over 2000 students.
It is not my intent to disparage our school district. It is my intent to speak truth in order to compel people to action.

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