2018 M-STEP Scores Released

Bob Kefgen's picture

The Michigan Department of Education publicly released results of the spring 2018 M-STEP and SAT this week. MDE's press release included aggregate statewide results, but more detailed numbers are also available through the mischooldata.org, allowing for comparisons between individual schools, grades and districts. But if you just read the headlines, you are missing a lot of important context about what these scores really mean.

So what were the results? Well, looking at the simple year-to-year change in proficiency rates by grade (the statistic picked up in most headlines I've read) shows:

  • Math scores were effectively flat across grades 3-8;
  • ELA scores were up slightly in grades 3 and 4, but down in grades 5-8;
  • 11th graders did better on the social studies M-STEP, but 5th and 8th graders did worse; and
  • SAT scores dipped slightly in both reading and math.

But as Principals know, these numbers don't show student growth, speak to whether the gains or declines were statistically significant, or answer questions about how these scores stack up against other states. The best take I've seen on this week's score release came from Chris Glass at West Michigan Talent Triangle (WMTT) who made two great points:

  1. "We find similar headlines across the nation…All across the country, states are seeing similar proficiency rates even though these states are considered higher performing than Michigan on the NAEP."
  2. "…when factoring in margin of error many states are not statistically different than Michigan." (See this article from WMTT's Sunil Joy for a well-researched and thoughtful take)

At this point, you have doubtless reviewed your building-level data and are prepared for any questions you might get from parents about your students' performance. With the release of statewide results, you've probably also done some comparisons in your league or region. But as you are having these conversations in your community, keep this week's score release in perspective. Again to quote Mr. Glass:

"…those who fail to look beyond Michigan’s borders will continue to think things are woefully worse here than in other states. We certainly have work to do to improve education in our schools – in particular in addressing achievement gaps. However, more questions need to be posed in regards to these assessments and their conclusions about the education in our schools."

Here is a sampling of headlines from other states in case you need some examples (admittedly, some of these articles are a year old since other state's results haven’t come out, but the point remains):