Another Deadline Doomed?
from MIRS, September 12, 2002
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Do it now or do it right. That is the dilemma facing the State
Board of Education as it attempts to meet another self-imposed
December deadline for implementing its accreditation system
for Michigan's public schools, Education YES! – A Yardstick
for Excellent Schools.
In an appearance before the Board today, Dr. Philip KEARNEY,
chair of the five-member Board-appointed Accreditation
Advisory Committee, seemed to be setting the stage for yet
Kearney said his committee would present its recommendations
to the board in time at their Oct. 17 meeting. But he also
laid out a 12-step procedure for testing and validating the
performance indicators that will be used in the cut-score
grading process to determine under achieving schools before
putting them in place.
“If there is a time problem, it is in the area of performance
indicators,” Kearney said. “There is so much to be done and so
little time here to do it. I can't promise that the target on
performance indicators can be met if it is going to be done
right. You need to be sure the information is auditable.”
That warning sound distressed Republican board member Michael
David WARREN, Jr.
“I'm troubled by what I'm hearing,” Warren said. “Since the
board will have two-thirds of the information documented to
determine a school's score, I would prefer we go with that
rather than wait another six months.”
Performance indicators are one-third of the factors used to
determine the school grade. The other two-thirds come from
student test scores.
Although state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom
WATKINS agreed that meeting the “self-imposed deadline” is
important, he stressed the need to get it right over the need
to get it done.
“We'll move as aggressively as we can, but given the
challenges this department is facing — a 25 percent cut in the
budget, 66 people going out the door [on early retirement],
and filling only a portion of those vacancies even though some
of those positions are federally funded — we are trying to
meet the deadline,” Watkins said. He added that the Board's
credibility should be questioned for “not getting the
accreditation done in a year when it hasn't gotten done for
An accreditation plan was adopted by the previous board and
was scheduled to take effect in early 2001. Watkins and the
current board scrapped that plan because it relied too heavily
on the MEAP test scores.
Board President Kathleen STRAUS said the performance
indicators were added, “so we wouldn't solely rely on the MEAP
test. We have to do this right.”
Warren reminded his colleagues that the deadline was
self-imposed for a reason. “The Legislature is breathing down
our necks and has legislation introduced that would do it for
us,” Warren said. “Whatever we have that is right ought to be
Watkins said that is a policy decision board members will have
to decide at its October meeting which could be pushed back a
week to allow more time to study the accreditation committee's
Asked if this issue might be the one to cause the unraveling
of the Board's bipartisan spirit of cooperation, Warren
replied, “It looks like it will be another year before we have
a plan, so it could be.”
The Board adopted a resolution calling for an accreditation
plan to be in place last June for elementary schools and this
month for high schools. Those deadlines have come and gone.
And based on today's discussion the December deadline may be
in jeopardy. It's possible the crocus could bloom again next
spring before a full school accreditation plan is in place.