State Board finalizes plan to
by Dee-Ann Durbin, M-Live and the
Associated Press, December 12, 2002
For more articles visit
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Schools will get letter grades based on
test scores, student progress and other factors under an
accreditation plan finalized Thursday by the State Board of
State officials said grades for elementary and middle schools
will be released sometime early next year. Grades for high
schools will come later. Schools will be given grades of A, B,
C, D, D-Alert or Unaccredited.
Michigan's chief academic officer said Thursday he thinks
around 738 Michigan elementary and middle schools are failing
to make enough annual progress under federal law, which is
entwined with Michigan's accreditation plan.
Despite that threat, some districts are embracing the plan.
Larry Thomas, a spokesman for the Oakland Intermediate School
District, told board members that the system will help schools
make sure all students are progressing.
"This is the most comprehensive accreditation system the state
has ever had," he said.
But Amy McGlynn, a member of the Grand Rapids school board,
said the system is "designed to slam us."
"It's not designed to help us figure out what to do about
these inequities. It's just designed to shame us," she said.
State board members began working on the plan in June 2001,
when newly hired state Superintendent Tom Watkins scrapped the
board's previous accreditation system because he said it
relied too heavily on Michigan Educational Assessment Program
Under the system finalized Thursday, scores on the MEAP
reading and math tests will count for two-thirds of a school's
grade. Schools will not only be measured by students' scores
but also on whether all students -- including minorities,
low-income and special education students -- are making
Factors such as curriculum, professional development
opportunities for teachers, arts programs and family
participation will make up the other third of a school's
The board needed to pass a system to measure student progress
by Jan. 30 to meet a federal deadline. The No Child Left
Behind Act, signed by President Bush earlier this year,
requires states to measure annual progress for students in all
racial and income groups.
Michigan's plan gives schools 12 years to reach a goal of 100
percent proficiency in reading and math.
Under the federal law, schools that fail to show progress
within four years must restructure and pay transportation
costs for students who want to attend other schools. If
nothing improves within six years, the schools could face
closure, state takeover or faculty replacement.
The restructuring provisions could kick in by the 2003-04
school year, based on what the state already knows about
schools' performance, Chief Academic Officer Jeremy Hughes
Board members on Thursday debated whether to include an annual
growth measurement in its accreditation system. The growth
measure will show whether individual students are improving
each year based on annual testing in grades 3 through 8.
Hughes recommended against including the growth measure in the
system right now, since the state's data is incomplete.
Because Michigan doesn't yet test students in the third grade,
it won't have two consecutive years of test scores from grades
3 through 8 until the 2005-06 school year, he said.
But Watkins and other board members said the growth measure
must be included in some form that will improve as the state's
data gets more reliable. Most data is in place, they argued,
except for students who move frequently.
"Each day that we delay the growth factor ... is a day that
educators aren't going to pay attention to it," said outgoing
Republican board member Michael Warren, who lost re-election
to the board in November.
Board members voted on the issue several times. On the final
vote, only Democratic board member Marianne McGuire of Detroit
supported delaying the growth measure.
"We do districts a disservice if we adopt this now and then
change it later," she said.
On the Net:
Michigan Department of Education,