PCCS pleased with MEAP results

Officials for the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools are pleased with 2007 MEAP results, which were released Tuesday.

Plymouth-Canton students showed improvements in 15 of the 28 categories measured in the 2007 MEAP testing, which tested math, reading, writing, social studies and science in grades 3-9.

“We’re pleased with the results,” said Barry Simescu, the vice president of the school board. “We are well ahead of the state average, and we saw a lot of improvement in certain areas.”

Students showed tremendous growth in the writing sections of the tests. Third grade students in the district showed a growth of nearly 10 percent, improving from a 58.9 percent in 2006, to a 65.7 percent in 2007. Seventh grade students improved from 78.6 percent to 85.9 percent, and fourth grade students improved from 49.9 percent to 56.7 percent.

Seventh grade reading was the only category to show a decrease of over 5 percent for PCCS (Plymouth Canton Community Schools).

“We’ve gone up in a few, flat in a few, and decreased slightly in a few, but no real problems,” Simescu said. “There were a couple of flat spots, and we always like to see it moving up upwards, but that’s understandable.”

Clinton Smiley, the principal at West Middle School in Plymouth, said that PCCS’s success in prior years makes it hard for the results to look good on paper, but that the district is doing an excellent job. Approximately 90 percent of kids in the district are passing the MEAP tests, which means it’s impossible for PCCS to show drastic increases in scores, according to Smiley.

“When you first take the test, sometimes your scores are around 75 or 80 percent. You can make some changes in instruction and go from 75 to 85 so you’re seeing a 10 percentage point growth,” Smiley said. “However, once you get to around 90, it’s pretty tough to move from 90 to 91 or 92. And that’s where we’re at, so you don’t see these tremendous gains, but it’s really positive when you can say that 9 out of 10 West middle school students are achieving at a high level on the MEAP test.”

Smiley said that the schools have fair warning for what is going to be on the test, which gives them the opportunity to make sure the students are prepared.

“You have the state department of curriculum, the various curriculums of math, science, social studies and language arts,” Smiley said. “They state what they think is important for kids at certain grade levels to know, certain bench marks. That’s what the MEAP test is based on, so now we know if that’s what they expect us to know, then that’s how they’re going to test us on the MEAP test.”

Roger Beck, a West Middle School English teacher, said that there isn’t much for teachers to do to help the students – it all comes down to whether the curriculum reflects what will be on the test.

“Ideally, the curriculum is preparing them,” Beck said. “So we don’t really do much to go out of the way in order to prepare them. We will talk about the structure of the test so they’re not surprised by that. Give them an idea of what’s coming. But typically we just try to adhere to the curriculum.”

Though PCCS students have shown success throughout the years, Beck said that the MEAP tests are an unfair measurement to a student’s development.

The test is given in a manner that is abnormal to what they’re used to, or what a person would do in the real world,” Beck said. “They aren’t allowed to use resources they would typically be allowed to do; they’re not allowed to peer edit which they’d be allowed to do. So I don’t think it’s an authentic measure.”

Simescu said that the district will be evaluating the results in the upcoming weeks, to determine if any changes need to be made for next year’s tests.

“It’s too early to tell really, we have to wait until we get the data back for all the schools, and then we’ll analyze it,” Simescu said. “We can analyze individual data and provide changes as needed – we get information broken down all the way to school, to classroom, to individual results.”

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