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MEAP Scores Give Just One Glimpse at Student Performance, Novi Administrators Say

Superintendent Dr. Steve Matthews says that Novi uses more than the MEAP to measure student achievement.

How did do on the 2011 MEAP?

That, Superintendent Dr. Steve Matthews said, is not the right question to ask.

“The question really is, ‘Can we use the information that is given in this test to help make us better?’ And the answer is yes,” he said.

by the Michigan Department of Education Wednesday.

Matthews said that the MEAP is just one measurement the district uses to see how the students are doing.

“I think the MEAP test is one piece of data,” Matthews said. “It gives us one glimpse, one window into how our students are performing. Is it the most important? I would argue that it’s not the most important. Is it one piece we can use with parents to say, you know here’s an indication of how your son or daughter is doing, it certainly is, but I think it has to be put in context.”

Matthews said he thinks MEAP scores can almost be considered irrelevant, except when teachers can use the data to help them understand what they know about a student, and then to help them improve.

“Am I happy when a third grader passes a MEAP test? Not necessarily,” Matthews said. “I’m happy when I’m confident that every day when they come to school, that the teacher attends to their needs, tries to help them get better than they were yesterday, that the teacher has a connection with that child’s family, to help those parents understand what they can do to help at home – that’s when I’m happy.”

Measuring achievement beyond the MEAP

Matthews and Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services RJ Webber said the district puts value on other factors that determine if a child is learning or ready for college, such as the life skills they learn in , athletics or extracurricular activities.

“That adds value, that helps prepare them for college. It teaches them about deadlines, it teaches them about adversity. To me, where’s the matrix to figure that out?” Webber said.

The district also looks at scores from AP tests and the Northwest Evaluation Association, which is a non-profit company that tests students’ growth twice a year. 

Webber also said that untimely measurements like the MEAP are another thing that is urging the administration to create their own system of measurement for Novi Schools. 

“At the end of the day, we want to build a system within Novi that gives parents and kids really accurate feedback on how they’re progressing and does that more than once a year, and that we feel is based in actionable pieces of meaning. That parents can actually use that information to help their kid,” he said. 

Matthews said the administration will continue to look at the big picture and make sure every student is achieving.

“We won’t be satisfied in our district until every student makes a year’s growth in a year’s time and achieves at a high level, and that’s when we’ll be happy,” Matthews said.

“And we’re going to use this data to help us work toward that goal, but our goal is not to do well on the MEAP test. Our goal is to prepare students for the long haul. That they’ll be successful when they graduate from high school. That when they shake my hand as they cross that stage, that I’m confident that when they walk off that stage, that they’re ready for that next stage in their life – whatever that phase happens to be.”

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