Baldwin Community Schools’ M-STEP results show improvement

BALDWIN — Baldwin students worked hard last spring during the M-STEP assessment, and their efforts show improvement in several areas compared to the previous year.

M-STEP, first given to Michigan students in the 2014-15 school year, is a state standardized test given each spring to assess how students are mastering state standards. The results come back the following August.

According to Baldwin Community Schools Superintendent Stiles Simmons, the 2015-16 test results were mixed, but in many areas there was overall improvement.

Third through eighth-graders and 11th graders take the test. Students experienced noticeable changes in the actual test and test taking, said Simmons.

“Overall there have been positive changes since the tests commenced in the 2014-15 school year,” he said. “The test has been modified, the administration of it has been shortened, and it was taken on the computer this past spring. Since the test is a new assessment, it is still surrounded by political controversy, so M-STEP is not the metric we use to guide our instruction. Instead, internal data sources such as NWEA MAP help guide curriculum improvement.”

MAP testing adapts to each student’s learning level by creating personalized assessments.

Simmons explained the biggest use of M-STEP testing is to compare student performance to state averages and local school districts in the West Shore Educational Service District, which serves Baldwin, Hart, Ludington, Mason County Central, Mason County Eastern, Pentwater, Shelby and Walkerville schools.

Compared to the ESD and state averages in 2014-15, Baldwin students in most grade levels improved in English language arts and math. The fourth-grade English language arts scores improved by 16.5 percentage points compared to 2014-15, and this year exceeded the ESD average compared to an average ranking in 2014-15.

“This is a significant difference,” Simmons said.

At the high-school level, the students also narrowed the achievement gap significantly between the test scores the past two years. The 2014-15 school year revealed a gap of 19 percentage points in English language arts, and in 2015-16, the gap was reduced to 8 percentage points.

“At many grade levels we observed a narrowing of the gaps between our student achievement levels and the ESD and state averages, which indicates that our students are experiencing significant growth,” said Simmons.

“This year’s 11th-grade science results show that our students achieved 24 percentage points higher than the previous year and exceeded the ESD and state average scores as well as ranked second among the local school districts within the ESD. We were also pleased to see that our third-grade math scores exceeded the ESD and state average scores for the second consecutive year.”

Compared to local West Shore ESD scores, there was a decline in fifth-grade English language art scores and seventh-grade English language arts and math.

“We do not believe these scores accurately reflect the capabilities of last year’s seventh grade students,” Simmons said.

In summary of this year’s results, Simmons said, “Overall, the results are mixed. We know that we have to continue to work together to improve our students’ proficiency levels, but we are pleased with the level of improvement from the previous year. We are fortunate to have an outstanding staff that works diligently to help our students overcome tremendous odds and to prepare them for meaningful post-secondary opportunities. And we are grateful to have a community that supports our efforts to improve student achievement.”

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