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Article of Interest - Michigan

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Bridges4Kids Logo109 School Districts Fail To Make Federal Progress
by Mark Hornbeck, The Detroit News, January 13, 2005
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LANSING -- State education officials will announce today that 109 Michigan school districts -- about one in every five across the state -- failed to meet federal progress standards this year.

That means students in those districts did not reach goals on state test scores, graduation or attendance rates in at least two school levels. A district that failed to make adequate progress in middle school, for example, must make the grade in elementary and high schools.

Districts that remain on the list for two years will be required to draw up improvement and parental involvement plans and could face sanctions beginning in four years ranging from replacing staff to abolishing the district.

"Most of our districts meet the standards," said Martin Ackley, spokesman for the state Education Department. "We still have work to do in some districts."

This will be the state's first report on school districts that meet so-called adequate yearly progress standards set up by President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. Past reports have focused on individual school buildings.

The state will release today the list of districts that met the standards and those that did not, along with a brief explanation of why they fell short. Among the possible reasons: Low overall test scores in math, reading or both; fewer than 95 percent of students in the district took the exams; ethnic subgroups fared poorly on state tests; attendance rates in elementary and middle schools were below 85 percent; graduation rates in high school were below 80 percent.

"It's more difficult for a district to make adequate yearly progress than it is for a building," said Mary Alice Galloway, assistant to the chief academic officer for the state Department of Education.

The state has 557 traditional school districts, 216 charter schools and 57 intermediate districts. Most of the 109 districts that failed to meet the federal standards are traditional districts, but a handful may be charter schools with more than one building and intermediates, Ackley said.

Consequences for districts that don't shape up in four years include:

Removing schools from the districts that don't make adequate progress and providing some other kind of governance.

Appointing a receiver to administer the district.

Replacing staff or moving authority from building staff to central administration.

Allowing students to transfer to another district.

Eliminating or restructuring the district.

What about your district?
Information about local school districts that did and did not make adequate yearly progress will be available online at 10 a.m. today. Parents can check the status of their school districts at www.michigan.gov/mde.

    

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