“I would say, overall, we’re pleased that we continue to demonstrate results that place them well-above state averages for MEAP achievement, and above county averages,” said Grand Haven Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska. “But we are never satisfied with our results. We will continue to work very closely with our staff to look at ways to continue to improve the achievement levels of our students.”
Grand Haven students posted gains in math, reading and science; and, of the 18 tests administered in grades 3-9, students showed significant growth on 12 of them compared to last year.
The students performed above county averages in all but one grade and subject, and above state levels in every category.
“We certainly would like to see additional improvement in writing and social studies,” Konarska said. “They trended down a little bit from last year. Writing tended to do that across the state. The majority of our areas continue to increase and we continue to see the steady progress we like to see.”
Grand Haven third-graders scored highest in reading with 86 percent proficient. The fourth-graders scored highest in math with 59. Eighth-graders notched the lowest score of all with 29 percent proficiency in science.
Spring Lake fourth-graders scored 95 percent proficient in reading and 88 in math. Eighth-graders tallied 31 in math and 20 in science.
Both Konarska and Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton noted the state’s “cut scores” — a more rigorous measuring method based on college- and career-ready achievement standards — makes comparing actual numbers to prior years difficult.
“The drop in test scores that school districts across the state are experiencing is a direct result of the change in ‘cut scores’ implemented by Michigan lawmakers beginning this year,” Konarska said. “However, when previous years’ scores are adjusted using the new ‘cut score’ levels, our students continue to demonstrate academic growth. These results show that we are focusing on the right areas — and reflect the hard work of our students and staff, along with the support of administrators and parents.”
Furton said Spring Lake students also scored well.
“Statewide, we’re still ahead in every test at every grade level,” the Spring Lake superintendent said. “But we always draw our attention to areas where we feel the gap is not what it should be. We place particular emphasis on those areas.
“Our concern as a district would be with the eighth-grade math scores,” he added. “They are lower than we anticipated.”
Furton said the district has already hired a specialist to focus on math at the middle school level.
“We have excellent math teachers districtwide, so it’s not a question of that,” he said. “We just need to figure out what strategies we need to utilize.”
Furton noted that Spring Lake students excelled at reading.
“Every year, we do very well in reading and we did very well again this year,” he said. “We scored 92 percent in third grade and 94 in fourth — which goes to show we’re using good teaching strategies and good curriculum, and making progress to meet the higher standard that the state has set.”
Statewide, reading saw an average 3-percent increase in proficiency with numbers in the 60-69 percent range for grades 3-8. Math scores statewide for all grades ranged from 29-40 percent.