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Chelsea Superintendent Credits Revamped Curriculum, Faculty for District's High MEAP Scores

Chelsea School District students had the highest reading scores in the county for the 2012 MEAP test.

Chelsea School District officials have a lot to be proud of following the release of the 2012 Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test scores on Monday.

During the MEAP exam, taken during fall 2012, public school students in grades 3-9 were tested in math, reading, writing, social studies and/or science depending on the grade level. Chelsea saw significant gains in fourth grade writing and sixth grade reading proficiency results.

Overall Chelsea’s seventh- and eighth-graders had the highest reading scores in Washtenaw County; and sixth-grade students had the highest social studies scores.

"Our scores reflect the continued hard work of teachers, parents, and students," superintendent Andrew Ingall said. "We try to move the bar with each of our students, but take it one student at a time."

Ingall said the district has been hard at work evaluating and implementing curriculum changes since 2011, after three of its schools were named "Focus Schools" by the state of Michigan.

"This year we dug in and took a hard look at the data before going through some intense training with our teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade," Ingall said. "All of our faculty across the board has been hard at work to make sure we can put our best foot forward in the future."

One of the changes the district implemented was the use of curriculum from the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Project for students in elementary and middle school. Prior to adding the program, Ingall said none of the district's schools had a defined writing curriculum that could be standardized in different classrooms.

"There wasn't a common philosophy on what should be taught," he said.

Though he acknowledges the MEAP scores show positive growth in the district, Ingall cautions against using only one test to evaluate student success.

"This test is a representation of where students were at a certain time. It's only one of the pieces of data we use to make the best decisions we can for our students," he said.

Ingall also said comparing last year's scores with this year's scores does not accurately reflect growth in each grade level.

"It's not an apples to apples comparison," he said.

For instance, this year's fifth grade scores measure students' progress against last year's fifth grade class.

"We're proud of our scores, but the work is not done. We need to continue to move the needle forward," Ingall said.

Julie Deppner, executive director of instruction, said Chelsea scored lowest on the science test, which is taken by fifth and eighth grade students. The lower scores were also reflected in the performance of students throughout the county and state. Chelsea’s science scores improved from last year, however, while the state scores declined.

A complete breakdown of Chelsea's MEAP scores is available on Chelsea Patch.

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