L’Anse district mulls MEAP results

L’ANSE – Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results are a mixed bag of improvement and decline at L’Anse Area Schools.

The district saw its biggest growth in writing scores, didn’t see the improvement in math it was hoping for and declined a bit in reading. In general, the district was on par with statewide scores.

“When looking in all the curricular areas, we scored at or close to state averages in all areas,” L’Anse Junior/Senior High School Principal Carrie Meyer said in a Tuesday phone interview. “We will continue to work with schoool improvement teams and staff to make improvements in the areas needed.”

In fourth grade writing, for example, the district improved from 29.8 percent of students meeting or exceeding the stricter standards implemented last year to 46.9 percent this year. The state average is 47 percent.

“The last couple years we’ve been working on writing, and our writing scores improved significantly,” Meyer said. “With the prep we put into the math curriculum, though, we would have liked that to be a bit higher.”

In eighth grade math, for example, the district improved slightly from 14.3 percent to 15.1 percent, but fell well under the statewide 33 percent meeting or exceeding standards.

Science was different across grade levels, with fifth grade science falling from 12.5 percent to 6.4 percent (13 percent state average), while eighth grade improved from 3.5 percent to 19.3 percent, with a statewide 16 percent average.

Since this is the first year the district distributed tablets to some students and more will receive them next year, administrators are trying to leverage the technology to spark some of the test score improvement they’re seeking.

“We are confident that we’re going to start pinpointing more precisely areas that need improvement, and be able to use software or online services for addressing issues with respect to test scores,” Superintendent Ray Pasquali said.

The district has also distributed personal devices to district board members, who will now be communicating electronically, saving “a great deal of paper,” according to Pasquali.

In other business during Monday’s meeting, the school board, which had all members present:

approved selecting Pasquali for the school service award, teacher Jennifer Rubin for the district’s outstanding employee award and senior Heather McCarthy for the student leadership award, which will be given out at the Copper Country Association of School Boards awards banquet April 24. The board also authorized Pasquali to nominate someone from the district for an area-wide award.

removed presenting a candidate for a new junior/senior high school principal from the agenda because candidates are still being interviewed. Meyer, who currently fills the position, will be taking over as superintendent July 1 following Pasquali’s retirement.

heard an update on efforts to improve school security, and a workshop was recently held. The district received a grant to put an emergency bag in every room with artificial lights, ropes a first-aid kit and two-way radios.

“We’re working through a lot of details to make sure in the event of a crisis we have as many t’s crossed and i’s dotted as possible,” Pasquali said.

heard from Business Manager Laura Mathieu more district employees will likely become eligible for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. MESSA, a state organization, will subsidize the expected 5.3 percent cost increase.

heard from Mathieu the district’s student count fell by 3.72 from the fall and is now at a net of 662.59.

heard the district is considering a timber sale on school forest land.