Evart Public Schools’ MEAP scores show general improvement, still fall short of state average, rest of MOISD in most areasEVART — Math was the strong point in Evart Public Schools’ 2012 MEAP results, but the numbers did not stack up in the district’s favor on other areas of the test. Besides sixth grade, proficiency rates in math improved at all grade levels at EPS this year. The district was above the state average proficiency level (41 percent) in third-grade math, with 48 percent of Evart students testing as proficient. Greatest gains were made in third- and fourth-grade math, where proficiency rates increased by 29 and 28 percentage points, respectively. Writing was another highlight of this year’s results, said Carol Phelps, elementary principal. Students take the writing portion of the MEAP in fourth and seventh grade, and Evart has seen steady improvement in the two years since writing was added to the test. EPS uses MEAP scores in a variety of ways to guide improvement for the next academic year. Students take the MEAP every October in third through eighth grade to measure their career- and college-readiness based on scores in math, reading, science social studies and writing. Reading and mathematics are tested each year in third through eighth grade; writing is tested in fourth and seventh grade; science is tested in fifth and eighth grade; and social studies is tested in sixth and ninth grade. In reviewing the results, one area of consistently low scores at Evart is science. For the past three years, less than 5 percent of Evart fifth graders have tested as proficient in science. Eighth graders haven’t fared much better, with 7 percent meeting proficiency standards in the past two years and 5.3 percent at proficiency in 2010-11. Math and reading tend to take priority in preparing for the MEAP, Phelps said. Also, there is a broader base of material covered on the science test since it is given three years apart. Compared to state average proficiency levels, EPS met or exceeded that standard in just two grade levels and subjects – third-grade math and ninth-grade social studies (Evart matched the state average of 29 percent). In comparison to other districts in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, EPS had the lowest proficiency rates in seventh-grade reading (34 percent), fifth-grade science (less than 5 percent) and sixth-grade social studies (12 percent). Rather than dwell on reasons for the lower scores, Hyde prefers to focus on improving in the future. “We tend not to look for excuses,” he said. “We know there are things we need to work on.” While EPS’ MEAP scores compared to other districts leaves something to be desired, internal comparisons show improvements this year. The district’s proficiency rates rose or remained stable in 14 of 18 subject areas and grade levels covered by the MEAP. In comparing scores of six different cohorts, fifth-grade math tended to be a low point for most classes, followed by an increase in proficiency rates in seventh-grade math. Sixth-grade reading was a strong point for most classes, with proficiency rates declining slightly in seventh and eighth grade. The way students and parents understand the MEAP test and its results is important to how students perform. Evart Elementary School chose a “MEAP rocks” theme in preparation for the test this year, Phelps said. Students decorated paper guitars, as teachers explained what would be expected on the test. Staff will congratulate students on their scores at their next assembly.