Board Approves New Performance Indicators
Gongwer News Service, February 10, 2005
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fall will have a new set of performance indicators to consider
for their Education YES! Report Cards. And this spring they will
see those indicators have a little less weight.
While the weighting of the indicators versus Michigan
Educational Assessment Program test results will not change, the
new weighting system approved Tuesday by the State Board of
Education would not allow the indicators to change the composite
grade for a school by more than one grade from the achievement
The performance indicators, such as teacher professional
development programs and parental involvement, would still
account for 33 percent of the composite grade for a school. But
where previously the movement of grades based on that was only
limited of the performance grade was F or D, that movement is
now limited for all performance grades.
The change is leading into adoption, expected in the coming
months, of a new set of performance indicators that officials
said are more closely tied to what schools are doing with their
school improvement plans than were the current indicators.
The new measures are based on 26 benchmarks the board said
schools should achieve. Those benchmarks are divided into five
strands: Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Personnel
Professional Development, School and Community Relations, and
Data and Knowledge Management.
Among the new benchmarks are such things as instructional
support for teachers, quality and communication of the
curriculum, collaboration among staff, communication with
families and the community, and accessibility of school data.
"We could have tweaked, tinkered with and revised the present
indicators and called it a day, but we had a vision for a larger
product," said Yvonne Caamal Canul, chief of the Office of
Ed Roeber, chief of the Office of Educational Assessment and
Accountability, said the change in the performance indicators
will also encourage schools to pull the answers from their
school improvement plan. "We don't want this to be the work of
the school secretary," he said. "We want this to be the work of
the school improvement team."
Department officials are still working out how the new
indicators will be measured. The current system is to allow the
schools to grade themselves, but Ms. Caamal Canul said the
department is also considering on online test that would allow
the department to set the grade based on answers provided by
school personnel. The goal, she said, is a web-based form for
school officials to complete.
And Mr. Roeber said the department hopes to have feedback
systems in place as well that will allow schools to use the
grades on their indicators to amend their improvement plans.
The department is in a bit of a rush to have work on the new
indicators completed because they will have to be ready for
schools to use by the fall. With the coming changes to the MEAP
administration times to the fall to allow the school report
cards to be issued sooner, the indicators must also be filed at
Ms. Caamal Canul said the department hopes to have pilot
collection of the indicator scores by April "so we can have it
to the schools in the fall glitch free."
A glitch-free launch could also help other states looking to
include performance indicators in their school grading systems.
"Michigan is being viewed by some people as having a national
model," said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Jeremy
Hughes said. Ms. Caamal Canul has already been asked to make a
presentation on the system to California officials, he said.
HIGH SCHOOL REFORM: School officials will be working in earnest
this spring on plans to redesign how Michigan high schools
function and, in light of the report from the Cherry Commission
on Higher Education and Economic Development, how they interact
with colleges and universities.
The department and Michigan State University are planning
conferences on proposed changes March 14 and April 25. Mr.
Hughes said the second conference was originally planned as a
follow-up to the first, but is now planned to be a duplicate of
the first to allow more attendees.
"There is a need for reforming high schools," said Chuck Breiner,
superintendent of Howell Public Schools. "We have a 150-year
cycle of high schools not really changing much."
The key change, Mr. Breiner said, will be more blending of high
school and college courses. "I think you're going to see a very
blurry picture, to the benefit of students, when you look at
grades 10 to 14 as students start taking high school and college
courses," he said.
"The relationship between high school and community colleges or
even four year universities is very important," Ms. Straus said.
"Doing something different is very imperative."
And, while much of the effort on high school reform has come
from the K-12 community, Mr. Breiner said he expects to see more
involvement from higher education as plans for changes begin to
develop over the next six months, he said.
SCHOOL FUNDING: Outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tom Watkins maintained that a paper he wrote on school financing
and the need for more money in public schools was a primary
reason for Governor Jennifer Granholm's call for his
resignation. But if that paper dogged him out of office (a
contention hotly denied by Granholm aides), it appears it will
also continue to dog the State Board of Education.
Though Mr. Watkins is essentially gone from the department (his
resignation is effective March 9, but the board Tuesday named
Chief Academic Officer Jeremy Hughes as acting superintendent
until that day), his paper on school funding will remain a point
of discussion for the board, board President Kathleen Straus
(D-Bloomfield Hills) said.
"We're moving ahead with the paper that we accepted in
December," she said. "We have to look at the revenue side as
well as the expense side."
She said the board was planning public forums on the issue in
April and May.
And she said Ms. Granholm has agreed to work with the board on
school funding issues.
FEDERAL SCHOOL FUNDING: Mr. Hughes again defended the department
on charges that it was allowing federal funds to be returned
unspent. "Very, very little federal money coming to the state
stays here in the department," he said. "It flows through us to
But board members said the department could not divorce itself
of any responsibility. "It is important that we view this as a
collective responsibility," said board Vice President John
Austin (D-Ann Arbor).
"You're saying it's not a department problem. Yes, it is,
because the money came here," said board member Eileen Weiser
"I think the solution will require an effort to monitor the
funds as they're drawn down the first year," said board member
Reginald Turner (D-Detroit).
Mr. Hughes said the department is working on a system that would
make it aware of unspent federal funds before it gets reports
from federal auditors on money being returned. He said that has
been difficult to track because, while some districts spend and
track the money at the district level, some pass it directly to
the schools, which are then responsible for spending it. He said
tracking the money at the building level is difficult under
Ms. Weiser said the department should be tracking not only how
much of the money is spent, but also how much of the money is
going to schools that are in phase 3 or higher sanctions under
the federal No Child Left Behind Act and particularly if any of
those schools are returning funds unspent.
The department is also working with districts to be sure that,
at least for Title I funds for at-risk students, schools are
using up remaining funds left over from the prior fiscal year.
Federal law allows those funds to be carried over for one year,
but Mr. Hughes said many districts ignore the carry-over, where
they may not be sure exactly how much is left until books are
closed after the end of the fiscal year, in favor of the new
He said the state also filed an application with the U.S.
Department of Education to redistribute some of its lapsed
funds, but was one of 48 states where that application was
rejected without time in the window opened by the federal
department to refile the application.
And he said the state had not returned significant federal funds
since 2001, which represented funds issued in 2000. "We have
improved the process since 2001," he said. "We have really
trimmed this down."
DETROIT SCHOOL FUNDING: Detroit Public Schools has submitted its
deficit reduction plan, but Mr. Hughes said he has not had time
yet to review much less approve it as statute requires.
SCHOOL CLOSURES: School districts around the state are closing
buildings to save money. But board members noted Tuesday that
many of those buildings are also under sanctions through the
federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Ms. Caamal Canul said department staff had noted the same trend.
We're trying to monitor that because we don't want it to be an
NCLB reason that it's closing," she said.
Though closing a school is one possible sanction under NCLB,
none of the schools in question had failed to meet adequate
yearly progress long enough to face that as a potential
Ms. Caamal Canul said the department is also working with
districts that have schools in the higher sanction levels, which
do require some restructuring of the school, to determine the
best course of action. So far, she said, schools have tried a
variety of programs to turn around student achievement.
"We just don't know which choices are more effective," Mr.
Hughes said. "There's just not a pool of research."
But she said getting information from some of the schools has
still been difficult. "I want to know for any one of these high
priority schools what's going on inside that building," she
said. "In order for us to provide technical support we need that
information. It's been difficult to get that off the ground.
It's been difficult to get that data."
And she said the research that is available shows many of those
schools will have difficultly complying with NCLB in the time
allowed. She said normal time to turn around progress in an
elementary school is five years. For a high school, the time
extends to eight years and for an entire district it is usually
"Our challenge in the 21st Century is to shorten those
timelines," Mr. Turner said. "If those timelines stay in place
we're going to blow up a lot of school districts and schools."
SCHOOL DATA: The department is also beginning to scramble for
data it will need to meet ongoing implementation of NCLB. Mr.
Roeber said the Center for Educational Performance and
Information had been working on a single record student database
that would allow tracking of individual student scores as those
students moved between grades and buildings, but he said funding
for much of that project has been pulled because of budget cuts.
The main piece apparently still missing is the way to get the
data out of the system once it is stored. Ms. Caamal Canul said
she currently has to file a trouble ticket with department tech
support to produce reports she needs.
"At some point we have to get that data to the schools," she
said. "I don't have the data and yet we're forcing those schools
to make data-driven decisions."
Mr. Roeber said in between six months and nine months he will
have to ask the current MEAP contractor to develop the system,
at a cost of about $10 million, to be sure the department can
meet the federal requirements.
But Mr. Roeber also noted that whatever database is created
would not officially be under the department's control. State
law (PA 180, 2003) requires that all school data be collected
only by CEPI.
Sue Carnell, Ms. Granholm's education advisor, said the system
is farther along than it once was. "Not only are we working on
the warehouse, we're also working on the P-16 piece so we can
follow a child," she said. "The only reason we aren't where we
need to be is funding."
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