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2017 M-STEP Results in Michigan Reveal a Troubling Trend in Education

Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, Published August 29, 2017 

Michigan's elementary and middle school students are slowly making gains in math and social studies on the state's tough standardized exam. But a troubling trend is obvious in results released Tuesday: That progress is overshadowed by declines nearly across the board in reading and writing, as well as continued struggles in science.

The declines in reading and writing couldn't come at a worse time, given the state is upping the stakes and requiring schools, with some exceptions, to hold back students whose performance indicates they're not reading at grade level. Those rules kick in during the 2019-20 school year. he Michigan Department of Education released the results of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress and the Michigan Merit Exam Tuesday. Results show droves of students across all grade levels and subjects failed the important tests that were taken this spring.

The M-STEP tests students in English language arts and math in grades three through eight, in science in grades four and seven, and in social studies in grades five and eight. The MME is a high school exam that for the second year in a row includes the SAT as well as state-created tests in science and social studies. It is taken by 11th graders.

The results:

45.9% of students in grades 3-8 passed the English language arts portion of the M-STEP. That's down from 47.3% in 2016.
37.89% of students in grades 3-8 passed the math portion of the M-STEP. That's up from 37.2% in 2016.
23.5% of the students in grades four and seven who took the science M-STEP and in grade 11 who took the MME, passed. That's slightly down from 23.8% in 2016.
32.8% of the students in grades five, eight and 11 passed exams in social studies, up from 30.3% last year.
State Superintendent Brian Whiston, in a statement, said the improvements in math and social studies "is exciting news."

"The English language arts scores are disappointing, however," he said.

Whiston said schools and districts need to work with their intermediate school districts to carefully analyze the results and look for ways to improve. The MDE and the State Board of Education have been intensely working to transform Michigan into a top 10 performing state.

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