Michigan Education Department

SCHOOL BEAT — February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Michigan schools lying? by RANDALL C. SELLHORN Trustee, Board of Education On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Grand Rapids Press front page headline which read “Michigan schools-lying to parents? Report blasts state for hiding behind standards lower than nationally accepted” was a bit of a shock to me and, I am certain, to others. Lying? The Press reported that a “long established and well respected” Washington, D.C. education advocacy group had released a report that indicates the standard used to determine proficiency on the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) for fourth-grade and eighth-grade students was below the standard used in the National Assessment of Education Progress 2009 (NAEP). The report also accuses the Michigan Education Department of having lowered the standards for proficiency on the MEAP. If you missed it, you could probably find it on MLive. This may shock you, but I really don’t care about the Michigan Education Department having lowered the MEAP cut score for proficiency or using a different standard for proficiency than the NAEP. Surprised? Read on. I will try in this short space to explain to you why you shouldn’t be concerned either. The Press article and subsequently the Education Trust–Midwest’s report doesn’t make any statement about the Michigan Merit Curriculum learning objectives for students. The Michigan Merit Curriculum is the learning objectives for high school graduation. They only take issue with the achievement levels required for a student to be rated “proficient.” First we all have to make the assumption that the learning objectives for the MEAP and the NAEP are similar if not the same. Don’t know that, but to accept the report’s premise you need to. That fourth- and eighth-grades cut score for proficiency is being questioned and not for any other grade is puzzling. One could assume all other grades’ MEAP cut scores are adequate and similar to the NAEP cut scores? I have friends at my work that are actuaries skilled in statistical measure that will say, “Are you using statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post? Are you leaning on statistical evidence for support or are you using statistics for illumination?” It is our work jargon for saying, “Have you selected one item of statistical evidence to support your position and ignoring the […]