Hancock High test scores see improvement

Graphic provided by Hancock Public Schools This graph shows the increase in math scores of the Hancock school, based on data compiled from M-STEP test results.

HANCOCK — The efforts of the staff and administration of Hancock Public Schools to increase the level of education offered to students is reflected in performance-based tests submitted to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), said Principal Ezekiel Ohan, who completed his data-based report last week.

The increases are strong in critical areas of math, and evidence-based reading and writing in English language arts.

Scores have shown significant increases in the past two years, an accomplishment recognized by the MDE.

“Based on the data presented, the growth looks good,” an MDE field agent stated to Ohan last month. “Not knowing what the goals are that were set for you by the board, I don’t know exactly what else I can contribute, other than it looks impressive to see the areas where the kids outperformed the state average, and the growth trajectory over time.”

Ohan said his open communication with MDE has gone into its second year now, which includes frequent contact with various field agents specialized in certain areas.

“When I look at curriculum,” Ohan explained, “I make sure that we have an expansive array of offering that can really afford the potential to grow in certain areas. So, I wanted to see what our soft spots were, because last year, we made such tremendous gains, the marked Achilles heel for Hancock Public Schools was math.”

Ohan said he wanted to use the most vulnerable department, math, which was restructured over the summer. New teachers came from different parts of the country, he said.

“I wanted to take our youngest department,” Ohan said, “our most recent collaborative, brand-new teachers, let them bring their significant skill sets to the table, and have them placed within the parameters of our best practice in Hancock Public Schools. So, we’ve put them into play, done it the way I have been taught to do it by the MDE.”

In addition to test data gathered from exams given by teachers, scores from the state’s M-STEP, as well as the national PSAT test were compiled.

To chart score improvements, a baseline was established, which was the 2016-17 school year, the year before Ohan was hired. He looked at the data and discovered the weakest subject in the district was Math. In his first year as principal, Ohan said new practices were incorporated, data was documented, analyzed and affirmed by the MDE.

But he said, none of that would have mattered without increased student achievement.

“Now, we look at 17-18, and the scores go up,” he said. “And they go up in English, in evidence-based reading and writing. The scores go up in math. So, that’s in 17-18.”

The PSAT is given in the spring and in the fall. In April, 2018, the score surpassed the previous year. Six months later, the test was retaken, the score of which documented another increase. Ohan said the data and the MDE’s response to it, showed him what he wanted to know.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” he said. “People may have their own opinions. We are all entitled to our own opinions; we’re just not entitled to our own facts. And that’s exactly what data does: it presents the facts. So, when we look at what the results are, and we are steadily increasing, the data ends the arguments.”