The Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) (page 2)
The Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) was initiated by the State Board of Education, supported by then-Governor William G. Millken, and funded by the Michigan legislature through Public Act 307 of 1969 (Section 14). The MEAP tests were first administered during the 1969-70 school year for the purpose of determining what students know and what students are able to do, as compared to standards set by the State Board of Education, at key checkpoints during the students' academic career. Hundreds of educators from throughout Michigan continue to be involved in the development and ongoing improvement of these tests. No other tests measure what is expected of Michigan students, nor measure the performance of Michigan students against established academic standards.
The Michigan Revised School Code and the State School Aid Act require the establishment of educational standards and the assessment of students' academic achievement. Accordingly, the State Board of Education, with the input of educators throughout Michigan, approved a system of academic standards and a framework within which local school districts could develop and implement curricula as they see fit.
The MEAP tests have been recognized nationally as sound, reliable and valid measurements of academic achievement. Students who score high on these tests have demonstrated significant achievement in valued knowledge and skill. Further, the tests provide a common denominator to measure how well students are doing, and to assure that all Michigan students are measured on the same skills and knowledge, in the same way, at the same time.
Properly used, the MEAP tests can:
- Measure academic achievement as compared to expectations, and whether it is improving over time;
- Determine whether improvement programs and policies are having the desired effect;
- Target academic help where it’s needed.
Admittedly, there is some pressure associated with taking the MEAP tests, but it is a positive pressure. Competitive scholastic experience provides Michigan students with excellent preparation for the real world which awaits them after high school graduation, and helps assure that they possess the knowledge and skill necessary for a successful future.
The Michigan Educational Assessment Program is all about effort, improvement and academic excellence. Michigan students are expected to learn and grow, and the MEAP continues to make a valuable contribution in providing them the opportunity to measure their academic progress. The MEAP tests and administration of the tests are far from perfect, but our collective effort should be student focused with a clear bias toward accurate analysis, constructive criticism and continual improvement.
Purpose of the MEAP
The MEAP tests were developed to measure what Michigan educators believe all students should know and be able to achieve in five content areas: mathematics, reading, science, social studies, and writing. The test results paint a picture of how well Michigan students and Michigan schools are doing when compared standards established by the State Board of education. The MEAP test is the only common measure given statewide to all students. It serves as a measure of accountability for Michigan schools.
Results of MEAP tests can be used by schools for school improvement purposes. The results indicate overall strengths and weaknesses of a school district's curriculum, and can be used to modify instructional practice. Results have been used for the Michigan Accreditation Program, and will continue to be used as one piece of this program as it evolves into an accountability model.
MEAP vs. Other Tests
Michigan's MEAP tests are based on the Model Core Curriculum Outcomes and the Content Standards approved by the Michigan State Board of Education. No other published tests match Michigan’s Outcomes and Standards. Most MEAP test questions have actually been written by Michigan educators. Also, Michigan's MEAP tests are criterion-referenced, meaning that the results are reported as performance against a standard. These standards are set by Michigan educators and approved by the Michigan State Board of Education. Student performance is judged according to whether or not each student met the achievement standard. If a student meets the standard, it means he/she meets expectations set by the State Board of Education on the recommended curriculum. In theory, all students in the state could achieve the standard in every subject.
Most published tests are norm-referenced. This means that each student’s performance is compared to other students’ performance, and not to expectations set by educators. No matter how well students do on a norm-referenced test, half of them will always be "below average, even if they meet expectations. For example, imagine a foot race involving 100 people. The person who finishes first performed better than the other 99 participants. Every person who races is ranked-ordered by the time it took them to finish. Someone must finish first, and someone must finish last... but only half of the people can finish in the top 50%.
Educators are sometimes frustrated with the MEAP because some students barely miss meeting the standard. They (and their students) erroneously assume that the student has somehow "failed." While it may be true that for purposes of assigning a score, these students do not meet the standard, they are by no means considered "failures." The seemingly harsh reality of life is that whether we are vying for a better test score, or a place on the starting lineup on our school's basketball team, or a job in the working world, someone meets all the expectations of the test (or coach, or prospective employer) and someone else falls shy.
Admittedly, no measuring instrument is perfect. There are always false positives and false negatives. For every student who misses a cut by a mere one point, there is usually another student who makes the cut by that mere one point. It is important to keep in mind that the MEAP is only one measure at one point in time. MEAP results should be considered in relation to curriculum, instruction, and other achievement measures.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
The state of Michigan participates in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the Nation's Report Card which informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States.
Reprinted with the permission of the Michigan Department of Education. © 2001-2007 State of Michigan
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