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Published: Friday, 8/8/2008

Standardized test scores improving for Michigan students


LANSING - High school students made slight improvements in the second year of Michigan's revamped standardized testing program.

The percentage of public school students who scored at the proficient or advanced levels improved slightly in reading, writing, and science this year.

Social studies scores declined and math scores held steady, according to the Michigan Merit Exam results released yesterday by the Michigan Department of Education.

Only 41 percent of students met or exceeded standards in writing. But that was up from 40 percent in 2007.

Sixty-two percent of students scored proficient or better in reading, up from 60 percent a year ago. In science, 57 percent of students met the mark compared to 56 percent in 2007.

About 80 percent of students met or exceeded standards in social studies, down from 83 percent a year ago. Math scores remained the same at 46 percent.

The Michigan Merit Exam is often taken in the spring of a student's junior year. Students who do well on the tests can qualify for up to $4,000 in state college scholarship money.

Students can get some of the cash just by taking the test and completing some college work. But to get some of the money up front, students must score at the proficient or advanced level.

The exam, in its second year, is part of an effort to toughen the state's high school graduation requirements and improve academic performance. State officials say indications are the effort is paying off.

"We are seeing the benefits of a renewed emphasis on high school achievement," State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus said.

The Michigan Merit Exam includes an ACT college entrance exam. On average, Michigan students who took the ACT as part of the state test had an 18.8 composite score - the same as last year's students.

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