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Article of Interest - Michigan

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Bridges4Kids LogoState Likely Escapes Penalties on Report Cards
Gongwer News Service, August 10, 2004
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The school report cards for elementary and middle schools were out on time under federal law. The high school report cards will not be. But officials told the State Board of Education that the current conflict in schedules should protect the state from any sanctions for not meeting the deadline.

Among the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, every state must provide report cards on each of its schools and those report cards must be released before the beginning of the school year.

The report cards for the elementary and middle schools were released last week, which meets the federal requirement. But, because the report cards must be based on the state's standardized test, the high school report cards will not be ready until later in the fall, said state Chief Academic Officer Jeremy Hughes at the board meeting Tuesday.

"This is not our fault so we will not be facing any penalties," Mr. Hughes said.

The state school code requires that the Michigan Educational Assessment Program high school tests be administered at the end of the school year and requires that schools be given time to review and appeal results on the tests. They also must be given time to review and appeal grades given on the state report cards.

Mr. Hughes said with the time needed to score the tests, create the report cards and complete any protest periods could push report card releases for the high schools to as late as early November.

The department has asked for changes to the school code to allow the high school test to come earlier in the year, but so far have not bee successful in pushing for the change, though a package of bills (SB 729, SB 730, SB 731, SB 732) has been introduced to give the department more authority in administering the MEAP tests.

Mr. Hughes said the state is also working on new measures for the schools it was not able to grade this year. Under policy set by the board, groups of fewer than 30 people do not count toward adequate yearly progress under the federal law. While the rule was intended to apply to subgroups of children within schools, it applies to entire classes at some schools.

"We're needing to work on, this year, some particular measures for these extra small schools," Mr. Hughes said, noting the NCLB requires that all schools receive an AYP designation. One of the considerations, he said, is to look at multiple years of test scores until the total number of tests taken exceeds the 30-student limit for a group.

RESTRUCTURING: With 62 schools required to implement a restructuring plan because they once again did not make AYP, department officials are working now to build a better database of what those schools are actually doing - and not doing. "We need to have data in order to better understand what's happening in the schools we work with," said Yvonne Caamal-Canul, director of school improvement for the state.

She said her office was developing a portfolio on each of the schools to determine what services they would need.

She said the department is also working even more with intermediate school districts to develop services to assist the foundering schools. "We just will never have enough staff to cover the needs of the field, so we need to partner with the ISDs," Ms. Caamal-Canul said, noting that the area where the most struggling schools are concentrated is gradually expanding across the state.

"It's not just urban and we need to work with all those areas," she said.

CERTIFIED TEACHERS: Sparked by a report that some public school academies in the state have only about half of their teachers certified, the board asked department officials to pull together a report on how many teachers across the state are not certified.

Members feared that, with coming requirements that all teachers be "highly qualified" under the state law, those uncertified teachers would not qualify and so would either be out of work or would have to be shifted out of the classroom, depending on the provisions of union contracts.

Mr. Hughes said the Registry of Educational Personnel, a database kept by the Center for Educational Performance and Information, should be up to date by October. He said he had recently sent letters to a number of school districts pointing out that their information in the database was not current and that they risked losing 5 percent of their school aid if they did not provide the required information.

The federal NCLB requires that all teachers be highly qualified or be out of the classroom before school starts for the 2006-07 school year.

    

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