Birmingham Scores on 2012 Michigan Merit Exam Exceed State Averages

The 2012 scores dropped noticeably compared to last year's averages due to new scoring standards put in place by the Michigan Department of Education last year.

Some of the scores from the 2012 Michigan Merit Exam (MME) may have taken a hit under new state scoring standards, but the district's 2012 scores, released Thursday, continue to outstrip state averages.

The MME, according to the Michigan Department of Education, assesses students in the eleventh grade based on Michigan high school standards. The test includes the ACT Plus Writing college entrance examination, along with other state proficiency tests.

Student performance falls into one of four categories: advanced, proficient, partially proficient and not proficient. Students must score either "proficient" or "advanced" to be considered proficient in that subject.

In Birmingham and across Michigan, students' scores took a hit in 2012 due to .

The new cut scores — which went into effect for the MME and Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) this year — are more rigorous than previous standards: Students now need to get roughly 65 percent of the answers correct to “pass” the state test, instead of the previous benchmark of 39 percent.

According to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan, the previous standard was based on the very basic knowledge that students needed in an industrial manufacturing economy — where students could get a high school diploma and get a good-paying job at a factory.

Those opportunities are mostly gone now, he said, with students needing at least a two-year community college education to compete in the technology-driven, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.

However, based on adjusted cut scores, Flanagan said in a press release Thursday that the 2012 state averages show one-year gains in several subjects, especially reading and writing.

"The impact of having students engage in the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum is evident here,” said Flanagan. “When students have the benefit of learning higher-level subject material, more will become career- and college-ready and prepared for success."

“We have to make sure we keep motivating all students with a challenging curriculum, and not give in to thinking that our kids just can’t do it. They can and they are,” Flanagan added.

In Birmingham, the percentage of students who scored either proficient or advanced on the 2012 MME decreased in nearly every subject except for writing. In 2011, 72 percent of Birmingham students were proficient or advanced in writing; in 2012, that figure jumped to 78 percent.

The biggest hit, however, came in science. In 2012, only 46 percent of Birmingham students scored proficient or advanced on the science test, down from 81 percent in 2011. Birmingham's figure was significantly higher, however, than the state average of 26 percent.


(% proficient or advanced)

(% proficient or advanced) Reading 2012 79 56 Reading 2011 81 63 Writing 2012 78 49 Writing 2011 72 47 Math 2012 63 29 Math 2011 76 52 Science 2012 46 26 Science 2011 81 61 Social Studies 2012 56 41 Social Studies 2011 92 78

Note: 2011 scores are based on the old cut scores.

Birmingham also saw a small decrease in the average ACT score in 2012, with the average score falling from 24 in 2011 to 23.8. The state average, meanwhile, jumped from 19.3 to 19.6 in 2012.

The slight up and down pattern, however, is consistent with Birmingham's history of ACT scores. In 2010, the average score was 23.2.

Birmingham Michigan ACT Average 2011 24 19.3 ACT Average 2012 23.8 19.6

All data provided by the Michigan Department of Education.

Correction: 2012 figures have been updated to reflect the percentage of students who met or exceeded state standards.


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