When Laura Tyrrell moved her family from Utica Schools to Lake Fenton schools last year she had no idea what to expect.
After seeing a presentation Thursday at Lake Fenton Middle School about the sixth, seventh and eighth-graders earning the top ranked MEAP scores in Genesee County, she was elated.
“It’s phenomenal,” she said. “I see the college bells and whistles. It gets the kids excited about their future with not only high school, but college.”
Averaging math, reading and science, Lake Fenton seventh-graders and eighth-graders scored the highest in public schools of Genesee County. Averaging math, reading and social studies, the Lake Fenton sixth graders also scored the highest in the county.
Taking sixth, seventh and eighth grade scores, Lake Fenton Middle School ranked No. 1 in the county among public schools in math, reading, writing and science. Lake Fenton had the same distinction last year.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” said parent Mary Ann Savage. “It feels so good to know we are doing a good job as parents. I had no ideas scores would be this high.”
Lake Fenton has chosen a slogan each of the past four years to go along with their MEAP score efforts. Last year it was “We can.” This year Lake Fenton principal Dan Ferguson said the theme this year will be “Three-Peat" as the students try for the top scores in the county for the third year in a row.
Although it may seem tough to get students excited about test scores, Lake Fenton Middle School students clapped their hands, pump their fists and said “We’re No. 1” during Thursday’s presentation.
“It encourages me to keep working hard,” eighth-grader Allie Luke said of the MEAP scores. “It confirms we are a great school. It also boosts my confidence and it makes me a little less nervous of going on to take high school tests.”
Ferguson said the students have taken responsibility in their own success.
“They don’t wait. We see daily gains in the classroom,” he said.
Overall percentages of proficiency were down this year because more rigorous cut scores have been applied operationally for the first time. The scores are meant to better reflect how well schools are preparing students for success at the next grade level and whether all Michigan students are progressing at a level sufficient for them to be career- and college-ready.
While Lake Fenton may no longer be 98 percent proficient in subjects, they are still well above state averages, in some cases as much as 30 percentage points. Eighth-grade students scored 32.5 percentage points higher (49) than the state average (16.5) on the MEAP science test.
“Keep the cut scores where they are,” Ferguson told the audience. “I love that expectation.”
Ferguson credited his staff as well as the staffs from West Shore Elementary and Torrey Hill Intermediate School for preparing the students for the test. He also mentioned how surrounding districts including Fenton, Linden and Davison have shared curriculum with the school. He noted several other factors that have contributed to the school’s success. He said core class sizes have not increased in the past four years. Ferguson also credited a new behavior support system for cutting behavior problems in half.
The curriculum, staff and students hard work has resulted in more than just high MEAP scores. Students are scoring well on other tests as well.
Lake Fenton eighth-graders also scored above (16.3) the national average (15.5) on the ACT Explore test. Ferguson has challenged the students to break records on the ACT.
He told the students to enjoy their success, but he also talked about continuing to move forward with a new math program being implemented at Torrey Hill and others ways the school can improve.
“We are going to try and be on the cutting edge to see if we can get even better,” Ferguson said.