Racial Gaps in Michigan Exam Results a Concern

Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, June 29, 2012

Michigan educators have spent years trying to address the persistent gap in achievement between white and minority students, but Michigan Merit Exam results released Thursday provided troubling news: The gap keeps widening.

The State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education recently set closing the achievement gap—the difference in percentage of students passing the exam—as a key goal for the 2012-13 school year.

The gaps, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement, are “shameful.”

“We need to end this disparity in education, and we need to do this together as a state,” Flanagan said.

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The achievement gap between white and black students widened in reading, math, science and writing on the MME, and narrowed in only social studies. The gap between white and Hispanic students widened in math and science, but narrowed in other subjects.

The gap also widened for both groups in the percentage of students considered college-ready.

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools leaders have worked for several years to address the achievement gap.

“We are very concerned about (the gaps),” said Jeanne Farina, assistant superintendent for instructional services. District and building equity teams are looking at the gaps, she said, “and digging deep into the data to find out where did they start to fail and what we can do about it.”

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Results in Detroit Public Schools were grimmer. Just 205 students—or 6% of the 3,418 who took the math exam—passed. In science, 104 students—or 3% of the 3,477 students who took the exam, passed. Only 1.8% DPS students were deemed college ready.

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