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Posted on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 10:01 a.m.

2012 MEAP results: How Washtenaw County schools are improving - or not

By Danielle Arndt


Students at Abbot Elementary School in Ann Arbor raise their hands to answer a teacher's question in preparation for the MEAP test in this file photo. file photo


Proficiency rates on Michigan's annual assessment exam increased in 2012 in all subject areas but science in Washtenaw County's public school districts and charter academies.

However, in general, those districts and charter schools with students performing grossly below MEAP averages in 2011, still have proficiency rates below state averages this year.

The State Department of Education released fall 2012 Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results Monday. The data show Washtenaw County's proficiency gains mirror increases across the state.

A higher percentage of students scored proficient in math, reading and writing on the MEAP than in 2011. Science and social studies scores were more of a mixed bag.

Everyone connected to education in Michigan is welcoming the gains. Last year, MEAP scores took a bit of a dive, when the State Board of Education approved raising the passing rates, or cut scores, on the test to bring Michigan into a more comparable standing nationally.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement Monday the gains demonstrate that Michigan's teachers and students are rising to the challenge of the rigorous expectations established in 2011.

"I am encouraged by the progress we are making in Michigan and look forward to the continued efforts to help all students achieve at a higher level in all subjects," he said. "The good news is most student groups have made substantial progress in mathematics and in reading; their progress actually has narrowed achievement gaps. I have confidence our highly skilled teachers will be able to use this and other data to develop strategies and interventions to help all students, in all subjects, succeed."

Across all grades, the percent of students in Washtenaw County scoring proficient in math increased by 3.4 percentage points in 2012. The largest math gain was in fifth grade, up 5.7 percentage points from 2011.

Ann Arbor Learning Community had the greatest math proficiency increase, 35.7 percentage points in fifth grade. Among the traditional districts, Manchester Community Schools' fifth graders were not far behind, improving their proficiency rate by 26.5 percentage points over last year's fifth graders.

County schools increased their writing proficiency rates by an average of 3.8 percent across all grades. Writing currently is tested in grades 4 and 7, while math and reading are tested in grades 3-8. Reading proficiency rates in Washtenaw County grew by an average of 2.8 percentage points across all grades.

In reading, grades 5 and 6 at Eastern Washtenaw Multicultural Academy had the largest gains in the county, 39.6 and 22.4 percentage points, respectively. Among traditional districts, third-graders in Milan Area Schools posted the biggest gains in reading, increasing their proficiency rate by 19.8 percent.

In writing, Milan's fourth-graders saw the greatest improvement, up 17 percentage points from their below-state-average status in 2011 (36.5 percent) to a higher proficiency than the state in 2012 (53.5 percent).


A chart showing the average percent of students across all grades who passed the 2012 MEAP test with a "proficient" score in math, reading and writing. The green boxes indicate the three highest average proficiency rates in each subject.

In Washtenaw County, fewer students scored proficient from last year to this year in fifth- and eighth-grade science, the only grades for which the subject is tested. The rate of students scoring proficient dropped an average of 1.4 percent among the schools. Milan suffered the greatest loss, 11.9 percentage points in grade 8, while grade 5 at Ann Arbor Learning Community and grade 8 at Dexter Community Schools saw the greatest gains, 19.9 percentage points and 7.6 percentage points, respectively.

Washtenaw County schools showed an average proficiency rate increase of 1.2 percent in sixth- and ninth-grade social studies, with Manchester having the greatest gain, 14.4 percent in grade 6, and Ann Arbor Learning Community having the greatest loss, 19.7 percent in grade 6.

South Arbor Charter Academy, a National Heritage Academies-managed school in Ypsilanti, tops Washtenaw County's rankings for all schools, including traditional districts, with the highest proficiency rates in the county in seven subject areas. Fifth-grade reading, with 91.6 percent of student's passing, was the charter school's best subject.

Students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district as a whole did not score below the state average in any category. The district led the county in fourth-grade math and writing with 74.7 percent and 71.1 percent of students passing, respectively.

AAPS saw gains ranging from 0.3 percentage points to about 7 percentage points in all but four subjects and grade levels.

Saline Area Schools also beat the statewide average in every category and led the county more often than any other traditional district. It was the top performer in four categories this fall: third-grade math and reading, 86.3 percent and 69.9 percent proficient, respectively; fifth-grade math, 78 percent; and eighth-grade math, 70.7 percent.

Students at Ypsilanti Public Schools tested below the statewide average in every subject and grade level. Their scores ranged from 3.9 percent proficient in fifth-grade science to 59.8 percent proficient in fifth-grade reading. Students' math scores across all grades averaged 16.5 percent proficient.

Ypsilanti students did make some improvements in third-, fifth- and seventh-grade math and reading, as well as fifth-grade reading, sixth-grade social studies and fourth- and seventh-grade writing. Those gains ranged from 0.1 percentage point to 10.8 points in third-grade math.

In Willow Run and Lincoln schools, proficiency rates also were below state averages across the board, with the only exception being Lincoln's fifth-grade reading results, which show 71 percent of students received a passing score.

Test scores at Willow Run ranged from 4.3 percent proficient in eighth-grade science to 52.1 percent in fifth-grade reading. At Lincoln, the low score was 8.1 percent proficient in fifth-grade science.

Search the MLive MEAP database for your child's school and grade:

Download interactive charts of AAPS MEAP scores by building dating back four years and Washtenaw County's 2012 MEAP data by district and charter school. See how the schools rank from most proficient to least proficient in every subject. Drop-down menus allow for targeted data comparisons by school, grade level, subject and percent increase/decrease from 2011.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Why have Ypsilanti Schools & Ypsilanti Township test scores not been included in the chart above?


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

They are listed under the School District of Ypsilanti in the "S" section, not in the "Y" section. No idea why, but that's where you will find them.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Glacial already made reference to this op-ed, and it warrants more attention: Anyone who thinks that higher standardized test scores mean better schools, and lower ones equal worse, should read it.

I'm not from here

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:15 a.m.

All methods of measuring school success are inaccurate, MEAPS and otherwise. When our son was in 11th grade at Saline and had already read every book in his new English class curriculum, he was sent to the hall to read other books and do reports on those, but was pulled back in to participate/enliven discussions on the books he had previously read. He got a C in that class. He had a mediocre GPA at the end of high school with numerous teacher conferences where he was "the brightest kid in the class with the lowest grade of most". Who failed whom there? Probably us, for not advocating better. By the way, he did extremely well on national standardized tests and on IQ tests. We involved psychologists since we thought he might be learning disabled. Nope. Schools need to understand multiple intelligences and make adjustments. Some kids learn exceptionally well but don't participate well in rote activities. That's necessary in the real world, true - they'll learn that. By the way, our son is currently completing a technical bachelor degree at a very competitive MI university, with scholarship.

Life in Ypsi

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

While I don't put all my stock into test scores, I must say these scores are alarming! I would like to see some specific data as to why these scores are so low and what has been proven to work. I fully support Head Start, but why with so many in our community that attended Head Start are kids still behind? It can't be all the parents fault and it can't be all the teacher's fault. I also wonder at what age does intelligence plateau? Is it possible there are just a bunch of kids with borderline IO's and teachers can't do much to improve that? This is not to say anyone has dumb kids, I am just curious as to why these scores are so low across the county because there are a lot of hard working teachers and parents out here doing the best they can.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

From the comments above? Believe it or not. I have seen it all. Glad my job lets me off the hook when things go south.

Basic Bob

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

You might want to believe that all the smart kids live in one place, and all the dumb kids someplace else. I don't think that is likely. In fact I think it is impossible. Some kids are more fortunate in picking their parents.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:01 a.m.

Any working parent in Willow Run or Detroit probably just doesn't care to leave their salaried position in those luxury office suites to risk driving their Mercedes back over to some run down school house supposedly hired just to babysit for them. Sure.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

And Lola? That is the way it is at Willow Run and in Detroit. Free day care. Parents don't want to be bothered. Especially when a child is sick. They still send them to school. I have heard it on the buses too. Child threw up, bus gets cleaned and parents are no where to be found. So the child stays at school sick as a dog. Case closed.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

When my child was in half day kindergarten (8 years ago) the Head Start kids had an extra half day of kindergarten (total = full day). I am not sure why but it might be to cement that "head start". In kindergarten the Head Start kids seemed to be at the same level as everyone else. Ditto for 1st grade. By 2nd grade they seemed to be slipping and by 3rd grade there were actually two separate incidences where two different kids told me they didn't know how to read. If what they are taught at Head Start and an extra half day of kindergarten isn't reinforced at home the advantage will be lost. The bottom line is that most of their parents don't care. The kids were sent to Head Start and full day kindergarten because their parents wanted free babysitters not because they care about their kids' education. There is only so much the schools can do to offset this unfortunate reality. Before everyone jumps all over me for this I'd like to state that I fully realize that there are exceptions out there. To those parents I say 'Bravo!'.

Life in Ypsi

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

* Correction - IQ


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

I'd like to see the results from individual schools within districts.

Life in Ypsi

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

You can search with the box above


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Here's a very relevant op-ed in today's Washington Post, written by a retired high school teacher warning college faculty of the consequences they will be facing with students who have gone through K-12 under the standardized test regimen:

Andrew Smith

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

The article addresses public schools and charter schools, but seems to lack info about private schools. How do their MEAP scores compare?


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

They don't have to take them. So instead of spending time teaching to the test, they can actually teach critical thinking skills. Plus they have the kids at the highest strata of socioeconomic status and involved parents. And money, plenty of money and resources. Snyder just again announced his intention to continue ciphering $$ out of the school aid fund next year. Love it.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

go 'splitter nation...


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

Let's see. Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, pre-school ed, post -school ed. Smaller classes, teacher aids, good pay and benefits...and half of these schools still perform in the bottom percentiles...Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein Really, we still can't get this right after 50 years of the Great Experiment?


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

I also never see an old person that isn't a genius only from years of being told answers in a boring classroom environment. 100% success every single time....


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 11 p.m.

I don't know where you're getting your ideas that there are smaller classes and teachers aides. Along with pay and benefits, they have been cut. Most public school classes have around 30 children with one teacher. I also don't know why you think schools are full of "everything but the basics." Visit a school and get an eyeful.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Yet no one learns! Our schools are filled with days of everything but the basics! Plus, we get a little rain today, and administrators call off school in the whole county? Come on. These poor kids need basic education. Read'in, write'in, and rithmatic. Period. 50 years of hand holding, and we see no lift. Doesn't that seem dumb?


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

So we should just let the children starve and roam the streets after school? These are programs that are put in place to make sure that children do not have to suffer for the inability to provide, for whatever reason, meals and a place to come home to after school. I am far from a bleeding heart when it comes to government programs, but these ones are necessary.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

It's the parents' fault and only the parents' fault that students in certain districts are failing. If a parent doesn't care how their child does academically do you really think the student will care? We need to stop blaming the schools and address the real issue.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

If it is only and always the parents' fault when their kids fail, why are we told that we must "invest" more in education "for the children?"


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Negative vote from me. Why? Because us parents do try and yet we end up with children who just do not get it. Glad you did Lola. But when it comes to those who don't? Do not even go so far to blame the parent. I tried and yet I blame the school for not having enough resources to teach children who are failing. The Algebra remedial to help those who are struggling is a joke. My daughter said all the ones who didn't get it? Just tuned out. It is because they did not understand it. Mine still does not and I quite frankly wish this garbage would not be shoved down the childrens throats.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Yup. Totally agree. The schools have to make up for poor parenting and that only goes so far.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

My junior year in high school I had straight A's in everything but Algebra, which was a D+. My teacher was really troubled by that. He felt he had failed me as a teacher and apologized repeatedly for it. I managed to get through geometry in better shape, but the truth is, I'm numerically challenged. it wasn't all his fault. My husband didn't do well in math either. We marvel that we produced an accountant, an electrical engineer and an architect. Must have been a generational skip of some kind.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Elaine? A teacher at Pioneer failed our daughter and so did the hi school. Ours now takes it on line and is just barely making it. All I can say is this. Math should not be a requirement for those who just do not get it. It is great for the European and Asian nations but not here. I am so tired of us Americans trying to keep up with the Jones. Elaine? The school and the teacher failed you. You did not.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Algebra is poorly taught in many schools. It's a tough class for many students and not well -presented. Some teachers do a good job with Algebra, but not most. Many of the "mathmatically challenged" would do far better in math classes with better instructors.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Must be the skip Elaine, because it doesn't seem to add up.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

Measuring school districts based on standardized tests is equivalent to deciding which restaurant to visit based on the billions of persons severed. Sure - if a restaurant has severed many people, chances are is is okay, however does not truly measure it's ability. Schools should be localized, and measured by accreditation systems, like higher education is. Come in every X years and evaluate programs, evaluate the output from the students (not tests, but knowledge output and exposure) and evaluate based on the teaching methods and successful student engagement and enrichment. Testing is a part of that, but not the major part that it is now. Look at the programs offered, the financial management, the leadership, the investment in continued knowledge and growth, the community involvement, etc. If I was a student where 90% of my peers passed test X yet my teacher was bitter because of infighting and mismanagement of finances with the board, then I would consider my school a failure. We are measuring with a predefined stick, and thus all one need to do is size up to the stick.

Hot Sam

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

I try to avoid any restaurant where people are "severed"...


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Agree. Evaluate and qualify the inputs, not the outputs.

Dog Guy

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

Teachers must maintain proper perspective on proficiency test results. Although I always have had success as a teacher, some of my students have not done as well. I do not hold it against them.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

Dog, You might appreciate some of Stewart's questions.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

But then again there in lies the union. If your children fail the school cannot hold you accountable. But in other schools that don't have unions the teacher is to blame and is fired at the end of the year. I hate to say it, teachers need to be held accountable with or without a union to hide behind.

Dog Guy

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

The objective standard of success for a teacher is the same as anywhere else: the checks continue. If any student achieves cognition it is completely that student's achievement, teachers are left far behind any true learning.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

How do you measure your own success?


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Able to brag about success even while stating your job is so easy you can sleep while doing it...


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

MEAP: Mandatory exams (that) are pointless


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:29 a.m.

So true. So true.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Whenever there is a discussion about achievement gaps, there is recognition that families play an important role in students' achievement. When there are rosy reports, I think we should recognize the role of the strongly pro-education families in the area behind student achievements.

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

I totally agree with you. When I have involved/supportive parents, their children are going to do fine. I feel I am a good teacher, but I cannot make up the difference in a student who has not experienced at home learning (just the regular conversations about everyday things) before kindergarten starts. Families make a tremendous difference, but AAPS will not acknowledge this because it is out of our control.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

I'd say school of choice at AAPS looks like a pretty good option for kids in Lincoln or Ypsi school districts. I'm surprised more parents aren't taking advantage of this.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

I know that many former Lincoln students with concerned parents active in their child's education have removed their children from Lincoln for Schools of Choice and Charter Schools. A small part of Lincoln's low scores can be attributed to this outflow of engaged students. To Lefty: I hope you are correct that your children are doing fine at Lincoln. Just be aware there are situations where the standardized test scores reveal more than grade inflated Report Cards.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

It would seem that they are taking advantage of it by the lower scores in Ypsi and Lincoln.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

There are supportive families in every district.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

My kids are at Lincoln and doing great.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

It may or may not be the schools. It may be the families who happen to be in those schools.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

MEAP tests are a huge waste of resources. They do not truly gauge a school's ability to teach. The only thing they measure is the demographics in a community. MEAP scores could easily be deduced from census data without the kids ever taking a test.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

Lefty66 - No more of a waste of time than the end of semester testing at the AAPS high schools.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:28 a.m.

I totally agree. Base it off of what the child can do not how they test. Most children freeze and then their scores show for it. I know a few children who gave up because of it and dropped out. Trust you me. I almost dropped out because of the ACT and SAT. MEAP is no different. I think it is time for students to protest.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Yes, let's just do that. But to be honest, the demographic of a community doesn't exactly represent the specific classroom. And of course charter schools and open districts don't necessarily mirror a specific community at all. So the only fair thing to do is measure every single demographic variable for every single classroom in the state. Then we wouldn't be wasting time, energy and money testing. Which is good because we would be wasting time, energy and money doing demographic surveys. The point is, there may currently be too much testing; but the answer isn't just going on and replacing it with nothing. If you think the current testing isn't working, come up with a better way to measure results that can be used state-wide and somehow manages to weed out all those pesky demographic variables. And good luck to you.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

and also these tests were taken in late september why does it take so long to get the results back?? It really doesn't leave a whole lot of time for teachers to do anything with the results.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

I couldn't agree more. You can predict 80% of a school's score just by knowing the % of kids who get free lunch. Let's save the money, stop teaching to the test, and do classwork that engages kids.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

I would love to see these tests given in a neutral environment.. with nothing more then 1 weeks notice.. then you might get a true idea of how kids are doing. Since our state seems to think these tests are so " godly"..

Dog Guy

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Good students such as in AAPS make teaching fun and easy. Wake me when it's time to retire.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Is it teacher bashing or is the teacher district bashing?


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Ah yes, still teacher-bashing. When will your bow break its one string, I wonder?