By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion Community Schools (LOCS) received good news this month upon the release of the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) results this past August.
M-STEP was made the official standardized test distributed to grades three to eight throughout the state in 2014, replacing the then 44-year-old MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) test.
“[The] M-STEP has fewer multiple choice questions than the previous MEAP assessment and more questions that require problem solving and critical thinking skills,” Heidi Mercer, assistant Superintendent of teaching and learning at LOCS said during her presentation during last weeks school board meeting.
While the MEAP was a fill in the blank paper test, the M-STEP is all done online which created several issues during testing last school year. “With M-STEP it is a very different testing environment than what we had with MEAP… to say that it’s stressful on teachers because of the technology that’s true, that’s an understatement,” Mercer said regarding technological crashes which resulted in the district needing to borrow technology from Southfield in order to complete student testing.
“Their old technology was better than our new technology,” said Mercer.
The Michigan Department of Education places Lake Orion schools 5th in English language arts (ELA) with 70.3% of students at or above benchmarks, 6th in mathematics at 59.5% and 6th in social studies at 43.4%.
“There was significant growth this year in math, it’s really exciting,” Mercer said,
Lake Orion consistently ranks significantly higher than the state average in all M-STEP subjects.
Mercer also discussed SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and PSAT (Practice Scholastic Assessment Test) scores. Lake Orion’s 9th grader class, which takes the PSAT, ranked 6th overall in ELA and mathematics, while the 10th grade class, which also takes the PSAT, ranked 14th in ELA and 11th in mathematics. The 11th grade class, which takes the SAT, ranked 7th in the county in ELA and 8th in mathematics.
For the first time, districts received a District Value – Added Report, a report that provides the district with reliable measures of academic growth. While LOCS calculates this on their own yearly, this is the first year the district has received the report from the state.
“We were excited to get that report this year, we didn’t know we were going to get it,” Mercer said.
This report showed significant evidence that Lake Orion student’s made more progress than the growth standard in grades 4-8 in ELA and also showed evidence of progress in grades 4-8 in mathematics.
All grades showed some growth evidence, with the exception of 9th and 10th grade, which showed evidence of less student progress.
Keeping in mind that LOCS, overall, has ranked in the top 10, percentage wise, for standardized testing almost every year.
Dana Mermell, board secretary said, “I just really want to applaud those educators because I know this is very stressful, this testing is very stressful in general and you’re dealing with kids who have test anxiety, there’s a lot of stuff going on in those classrooms that we aren’t even recognizing.”