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Major achievement gaps for high school students


State officials announced the results from the 2012 Michigan Merit Exam today.  They say the results for Michigan high school students are encouraging.

Eleventh and twelfth graders showed small gains in math, reading, writing and science. Half of students met standards in reading and writing. But just a quarter of students were proficient in math and science.

Joseph Martineau is with the Department of Education.  He says Michigan students are making consistent gains even with a more challenging curriculum.

"We're seeing that as we raise that bar, students are responding."

But not all students are responding at the same rate.  The results point to wide gaps in scores for minority and low-income students.  Martineau says those gaps are unacceptable and need to be a focus for local school districts and the state.   

"We know that our achievement gaps over the last several years have not closed and it's something that really needs to be done so that there's equitable education for all students in the state."

But Martineau also says it's not yet clear how to fix these gaps.  "We're not sure why these gaps are occurring; the 'why' is a really difficult thing to get our hands around."

One-third of all eleventh graders met the math standards, but only 6 percent of black students were able to do so; black students also exhibit performance gaps in all other subjects.

- Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom