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Articles of Interest - Michigan

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Bernero "Junk Food" Bill Gets 23 Co-sponsors
MIRS, May 11, 2004
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Michigan State Sen. Virg Bernero (D-Lansing) scored a minor political victory today when he introduced his "no junk food in schools" bill with 23 co-sponsors, including eight Republicans senators. That's the good news for him.

The bad news for him is that the bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Wayne KUIPERS (R-Holland), who has basically poo-pooed the idea as being a matter of local control. If parents have a problem with what their children are eating at school, they can take it up with the local school board.

The bill would prohibit the sale of junk food in most public schools and require all Michigan school districts to adopt school nutrition policies that ensure students receive healthier meals.

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MEAP Scores Show Proficiency Gains
Gongwer News Service, May 11, 2004

Elementary and middle school students improved proficiency in nearly all subjects tested by the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, according to reports from the Department of Education.

The results Tuesday were hailed not only for the improvements in scores, but also for improvements in timing after lengthy delays in last year's test results.

"I'm very pleased we are showing progress," said Governor Jennifer Granholm. "Our students have made significant progress. ...The achievement gap between certain populations is beginning to close."

But Ms. Granholm noted the need for improvements in social studies and writing.

"We are encouraged the Michigan students are improving their academic achievement as it is being reflected in their test scores, but we have much more work to do," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins.

"I applaud Michigan Department of Education officials for their work to correct the problems that delayed the MEAP test scores for so long last year. Tom

Watkins and Ed Roeber deserve credit for fixing last year's mess with a private contractor," said Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), chair of the Senate Education Committee. "Because of their work, local education leaders now will

Be able to make curriculum changes to ensure Michigan school children are receiving a world-class education."

Farmington Schools Superintendent Bob Maxfield said he was pleased with the performance of his schools. "In our case we really work hard to align curriculum with the MEAP," he said.

But he said the timeliness of the results was also important to give the teachers time to correct problems they may find. "At least the state department has shown they can do it," he said of reporting the results before the end of the school year.

Mr. Maxfield argued the results and the timing of their release should end discussions both of changing the high school test to the ACT and of moving the tests to earlier in the year. "We should stay the course," he said.

On the tests essential to meeting federal improvement goals for schools, the state saw across-the-board improvements.

On fourth grade mathematics, 73 percent of students scored in the proficient range, with 28 percent exceeding state standards and 45 percent meeting standards. Both categories showed improvement from 2003, where 65 percent of student scored in the proficient range.

Eighth graders were less adept at mathematics, but saw similar improvements, with 63 percent of students scoring in the proficient range. Of the total, 38 percent exceeded state standards, up from 31 percent in 2003, while 25 percent met standards, up from 21 percent in 2003.

Fourth graders also outperformed seventh graders in reading, the other measure for the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The elementary grade saw improvements in both exceeds standards (18 percent, up from 17 percent in 2003) and meets standards (61 percent, up from 58 percent). In middle school, exceeds standards dropped to 15 percent from 19 percent in 2003, while meets standards increased to 46 percent from 42 percent.

Writing, not measured under No Child Left Behind, was more of a challenge, with fourth graders seeing marginal proficiency improvements and seventh graders seeing proficiency levels drop. For fourth grade, only 2 percent exceeded standards, down from 3 percent, but 46 percent met standards, up from 44 percent. In seventh grade, the percentage exceeding standards dropped to 3 percent from 5 percent and the percentage meeting standards dropped to 44 percent from 51 percent.

Social studies, also not calculated in federal standards, also continued to challenge students, with fifth graders showing some improvement in proficient scores while eighth graders saw a drop. Fifth graders saw improvements in both exceeding standards (6 percent from 5 percent in 2003) and meeting standards (25 percent from 23 percent in 2003). Eighth graders saw drops in both categories, with only 6 percent exceeding standards, down from 8 percent, and 23 percent meeting standards, down from 25 percent.

In science, which is not measured under No Child Left Behind, proficient scores stayed relatively steady. In fifth grade, students exceeding standards dropped to 31 percent from 36 percent in 2003. But students meeting standards increased to 47 percent from 41 percent, increasing the ratio of proficient scores a marginal one point to 78 percent.

Eighth grade science saw the same marginal improvement, with proficient scores up one point from 2003 to 66 percent. Fourteen percent of eighth graders exceeded state standards, down from 17 percent in 2003. But 52 percent met standards, up from 48 percent.


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