LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Merit Exam scores in math and writing increased slightly in 2009, but less than half of all test-takers were proficient in either subject, according to results released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Education. Statewide proficiency levels in reading, science, language arts and social sciences were nearly unchanged from a year ago.

A press release announcing the scores said that 49 percent of Michigan juniors who took the MME earned proficient or advanced scores in math, while 44 percent did so in writing. Proficiency levels a year ago were 46 and 41 percent, respectively, the release said. Statewide, 60 percent of students were proficient or advanced in reading in 2009, down from 62 percent a year ago; 52 percent in English language arts, unchanged; 56 percent in science, down from 57 percent, and 81 percent in social studies, up from 80 percent.

The MME includes the ACT college entrance exam; the statewide average composite score on that portion of the test was 19, compared to last year’s 18.8. A perfect ACT score is 36.

Reporting on the results, The Grand Rapids Press said that Grand Rapids City High juniors posted an average ACT score of 26.3, second highest in the state. City High enrolls only top-performing students, according to The Press. The state’s highest average ACT composite score, 28.7, was reported at International Academy of Bloomfield Hills, according to The Press. ACT averages throughout the rest of west Michigan public, charter public and private schools ranged from 15 to 23.4, The Press reported.

Grand Rapids Superintendent Bernard Taylor told The Press that the scores point to the need for school reform as a top priority. He said that it was encouraging that the number of Grand Rapids students in the lowest-scoring category on the tests decreased, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, “Grand Rapids school leaders find ‘nothing shocking’ in Michigan Merit Exam results; statewide math, writing scores improve,” July 15, 2009

Michigan Department of Education, “High School Writing and Math Scores Improve on Michigan Merit Exam,” July 14, 2009

Michigan Education Report, “State: juniors must take ACT,” Sept. 6, 2006