SAGINAW, Mich. - Saginaw City School District high school students made gains on the Michigan Merit Exam in 2009, but the school board president said students would have an incentive to do even better if their scores were "integrated" into their overall academic record, according to The Saginaw News.

While proficiency levels improved in four of five subjects districtwide, the 2009 scores still showed that less than 30 percent of 11th-graders achieved proficiency in math, science or English, The News reported. Fifty-five percent ranked proficient in social studies and 39 percent in reading.

Board President Ronald S. Spess pointed to a gap between standardized test scores and school grades, saying, "We've got people getting great grades who are not proficient in the subjects they are supposedly proficient in," according to The News.

The question apparently is whether students treat the MME lightly, meaning their actual ability is higher than their test scores, or whether the MME accurately reflects their ability while their school grades do not.

Spess suggested the MME scores be reflected in each student's academic record, possibly by indicating the student's proficiency on the record or by having MME scores count as a percent of final grades.

Pamela L. Ross McClain, the district's director of K-8/Middle Schools/Secondary Compensatory Education/Evaluation and Grants, said that factoring state test scores into students' academic records "raises some issues for me," particularly since scores have improved, The News reported. She also said that education offers intangible benefits "that are equally important, when we measure our success," according to The News.

Making progress on the MME is a key way in which the district is evaluated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, The News reported.

The Saginaw News, "Saginaw School District debates whether state test scores should figure in students' grades," Sept. 1, 2009

>Michigan Education Digest, "MME scores mainly unchanged," July 15, 2009