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Article of Interest - Michigan

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Bridges4Kids LogoAbout 4 in 5 Meet AYP Guidelines
MIRS, January 13, 2005
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According to the State Department of Education, nearly 80 percent of Michigan's public school districts met the federal guidelines for making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Based on the department's 2004 District AYP report, 431 of the 540 affected school districts (79.8 percent) met the district-wide federal standards. Only 540 of the state's 828 local school districts, Public School Academies (charter schools), and intermediate school districts received a District AYP Report due to federal guidelines that waive this requirement for small districts consisting of only a single building.

This is the first time District AYP Reports have been issued.

“This is very encouraging for our school districts,” said State Board of Education President Kathleen N. STRAUS. “Eighty percent is a good start. Naturally, we want all of our school districts to meet and exceed our high, rigorous standards. We know a child without a solid education today will become an adult without much hope for a productive future.”

This is different than an AYP status for individual schools, explained the state's Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jeremy HUGHES, PhD., the NCLB requires that all students in a school district be combined and calculated as a whole in determining whether the district meets the required achievement, attendance, graduation, and test-taking targets.

“Where individual school buildings have to meet 50 separate federal criteria to make AYP, school districts have 83 separate criteria,” Hughes noted. “That includes meeting the standards district-wide at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as for the various racial, ethnic, and educational groups abstracted by federal law.”

Hughes said that the same federal AYP criteria that individual school buildings must meet also must be met by the entire district - such as test scores in math and English Language Arts; 95 percent of the students taking the state assessment test; 85 percent attendance at the elementary and middle school levels; and 80 percent graduation rate for high schools. The difference, he said, is that all of the students in the district are combined and figuratively considered to be in one big school.

“The federal law wants to ensure that school districts are meeting the standards at the building level and the entire district,” Hughes said. “It's a tough standard when you combine the district as a whole.”

“Michigan schools must continue to provide a quality education for our students as we prepare to lead in the 21st Century knowledge economy,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom WATKINS. “Recognizing the many challenges our school districts face today, we must continue to strive for greater achievement rates, greater graduation rates, and greater opportunities for all of our students. Special thanks go to the hard working teachers in Michigan for the work they do to lift up our children.”

Since this is the first time District AYP reports have been calculated, no federal sanctions will be inflicted on school districts not making AYP. It is only after two consecutive years a school district does not make AYP that federal sanctions go into effect. At that point, the district must develop a district improvement plan that identifies actions to improve student achievement and strategies for effective parental involvement, and addresses professional development needs.

Of the 540 affected districts, 492 were traditional school districts, 17 were charter school districts and 31 were intermediate school districts. Of the traditional districts, 409 (or 83.1 percent) made AYP. Of the charter districts, 12 (or 70.6 percent) made AYP and of the intermediate school districts, 10 (or 32.3 percent) made AYP.

In response to the department news release, House Majority Whip Brian PALMER (R-Romeo), who was House Education Committee Chair last session, pointed out that an 80 percent success rate means that 20 percent did not meet the standards.

“This is the first time that district-level AYP reports have been calculated,” Palmer said. “We have one out of five school districts not meeting the requirements set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. We must work together to help Michigan school districts meet their goals. All of Michigan's kids deserve a quality education.

Palmer said he believes Watkins is on the right track by calling for structural changes in the way that educational services are delivered.

“More money into the system will not solve the problem,” Palmer said. “We need to address runaway retirement and health care costs, as well as excess overhead and mandates to bring all of our schools into compliance. Creative solutions such as education flexibility contracts between local districts and the department of education will help in this regard and I look forward to working with Superintendent Watkins, the State Board of Education, the Senate, the governor and the parents of Michigan to address these problems.”

    

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