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Our Kids Deserve Better

Tests Show 1 in 3 EGR Students Failing Math


For years, those of us in East Grand Rapids got used to seeing 98% of our students “proficient” in the state assessments (MEAP Scores). That’s because until last year, it took as little as 29% correct on the tests to be deemed proficient. Essentially, you could get a few right, randomly guess at the rest, and magically be “proficient.”

In 2011, Michigan raised the bar—and it’s about time. Now, for instance in Math, it takes an average of 61.2% correct answers to be deemed proficient. The MEAP Score hurdles are set at what a student should minimally know for her grade level.

I don’t know what it was like when you went to school, but when I did, 65% and lower was failing. Math MEAPs let you get as little as 58% and still “pass.”

Yet, 1 in 3 EGR students are failing math proficiency tests, failing to get at least 61% right on the test.

In 6th grade, where it takes only 58% right to be proficient, only 48% of the students actually are.

These aren’t special ed results. These are the numbers for the entire district.

This isn’t “excellent.”

It’s not even good.

Yet, Shubel sends out letters boasting we’re better than 95% of the schools in the state.

Of course we are. Look at where we live:

  • Median household income is one of the highest in the state: $99,489
  • 99.5% of people have high-school diplomas
  • 77.3% hold at least a bachelor’s degree
  • The home ownership rate is 92.5%
  • Poverty is almost non-existent
  • Violent crime is almost non-existent
  • Homelessness is almost non-existent
  • We have no need for busing
  • 98% of EGR students intend to go to college

That’s the District’s starting point.

That’s the leg up the District has before our kids even walk in the school doors.

Of course the District is doing better than 95% of the schools in the state. It has a heck of a lot more to do with parents’ influence than it does the school’s.

Yet, 1 in 3 EGR students aren’t proficient in math.

They aren’t where they should be for their grade level.

Instead of sending out boastful letters, Shubel should be vowing to find and fix the problems, vowing to do better.

It’s time to stop talking about a “tradition of excellence”.

It’s time to start delivering it.

We can do better.

We expect better.

Our kids deserve better.


  1. 1) Given the weaknesses of the MEAP test, is this the best gauge of students’ math proficiency?
    2) What do you propose the schools do differently to improve math performance?

  2. They don’t intervene early enough, math is a building block, and if you are missing some blocks early on you never get a good foundation to work with. They move them on saying – they “can’t intervene, since they are not failing”, – this is why there is a gap in excelling and struggling kids and why the MS is focus school. It is also related to the point on the blog about how they designate learning disabled. I was told for years there was nothing they could do as my child’s testing was not bad enough but we all could see the gap between my child and peers. Other parents at other districts were always telling me how what their schools are doing while East denies support. It took 4 years, an advocate and a lawyer to get help, now they are helping at MS but too little too late. There should be math labs at the elementary school, before kids fall so far behind. They should also revisit their qualification procedures. Offer small math assistance classes for kids who need more one on one or different approaches to teaching math. There are many Math teaching programs out there, kids learn differently, but we try to teach them all the same way with the same program. I know with budget concerns the chances of this- but when you ask “what can we do different? “ , this is what needs to happen somehow. They focus on excelling students, excelling sports, but leave kids who struggle behind.

  3. Let me expand on the fact that I have multiple kids here at East, some excelling, some in advance math, some struggling- it is a great school system for the excelling or “a typical” student, but I have felt for years they have no concern for those who learn differently. I don’t mean the teachers in specific some have cared and fought along with me- but the administration. This is not their focus and now they are dealing with the results of their policies in their test scores and focus school designation.
    I have asked for years- why I have never heard East- who likes to toot their own horn, and brag about their success and excellence- ever say they are proud of their special education system. I have never heard them say it is the best or even that is in par with the excellence they brag about. As a tax payer, citizen of East, parent of multiple East kids, I want all my kids, not just some of them, to get an excellent education. I play with the idea regularly about pulling them out to find a school that meets all their needs.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’m sorry this has been your experience. Thanks for sharing your experience and showing others these matters are real.

  4. They are at is again, taking away supports in place to help my child with math without telling me first! They quietly got rid of a co taught math class and left my child in there struggling after I specifically said I did not agree and asked them to make sure they tell me first if they plan to proceed with that plan. They did it anyway and I just found out 2 weeks later. How do they think this is going to make the district excel again!! You can’t trust them!

    • issue resolved for now with complaint, lesson learned (again) you have to always be in tune to what is going on and advocate when you have to

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