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Article of Interest - Michigan News

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Feds Shoot Down MDE Changes

MIRS, May 9, 2006

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The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has rejected portions of the Michigan Department of Education's (MDE) Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) plans to meet the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. As a result, the AYP school report cards will be delayed, more schools will fail to meet the AYP and the MDE is likely to be assessed financial penalties up to $200,000 for 2007.

State Superintendent Mike FLANAGAN publicly announced the fed's action today during the monthly State Board of Education meeting, although the board members had been advised earlier.

The USDOE denied Michigan's request to increase the minimum group size for certain subgroups of special needs students from 30 to a formula of 30 plus 10 percent of the total number of students tested.

This meant schools with say, 30 learning disabled students, didn't have to report their test results as a specific subgroup. That's one less category a school could be found not making AYP in. If a school doesn't make AYP in one subgroup, the whole school is labeled as not making adequate yearly progress.

The State Board of Education supported the different formula as a way to provide equity between large and small schools, but the USDOE didn't see it that way. They say that school of 30 learning disabled students now needs to report their progress as a specific subgroup.

"Many more schools will not be making the AYP this year," Flanagan said. It will also require computer-programming changes to calculate AYP. As a result there will be a delay in issuing the report cards to elementary and middle schools.

MDE chief academic officer Jeremy HUGHES told the board there would be about a one-to two-week delay in getting the report cards out to the schools. The schools then have 10 days to appeal the results. There is another 30 days under state law for the school districts and the MDE to settle the appeals. This means it will be late June before the information is available to the public.

The USDOE also initially ruled that students who took the special-needs "Participation and Supported Independence MI-Access" tests could not be counted for the purpose of calculating the minimum of 95 percent of the students tested. That would have added many more schools and special education center programs being labeled as not making AYP.

However, some further discussions by Flanagan and several Michigan Congressional offices resulted in the USDOE reconsidering, but not without consequences.

Michigan had the choice of an earlier denial or allowing the assessments to be included, but be penalized by USDOE for not meeting the deadline for having an approved plan by next fall.

Flanagan determined it was more appropriate for the MDOE to take the financial penalty in order to protect local schools and programs from being inappropriately labeled since the two MI-Access assessments were administered in good faith by local educators.

Flanagan called the denials "a slam to communities who operated in good faith."

Although the MDE had received assistance and indications from federal USDOE staff that Michigan's plans would likely be approved, Flanagan was reluctant to dump on the federal agency.

"They are still trying to administer an NCLB that is in its infancy," Flanagan said. "We just need to move on. A year from now we'll be in good shape."

Board Presented Content Expectations For Science
The State Board of Education has already approved content expectations for English, Language Arts, and Mathematics. Today it got its first look at content expectations for Science. The fourth and final expectations standards will be presented at the Board's June meeting.

The content expectations for Science are divided into four categories: Earth & Space Science, Biology, Physics and Chemistry. There will be a prerequisite set of knowledge and skills that a student must have in science, followed by an "essential" set of knowledge and skills that requires two years of general science and then a "core" set combined with the "essential" in order to obtain a high school graduation credit in science.

Sue CARNELL, the governor's education advisor, expressed concern the document doesn't outline how to get from the teaching of science to the "hands-on" lessons in the classroom.

Jeremy HUGHES, Department of Education chief academic officer, said there are concerns being expressed by some schools about putting all kids into biology, as the new graduation requirements call for, when there may not be enough laboratory facilities.

"We need to demonstrate that there may be a number of ways that may be less than the ideal of hands-on," Hughes said.

Board member Nancy DANHOF countered that the board "is shifting from past ways to a new way of doing things" and expressed concern that because of "flexibility" some school districts might decide they don't have to have sufficient science labs.

Danhof suggested that this flexibility sets up a two-tier situation: "Those who did well and those who almost got it."

The "draft" is being placed in the MDE Web site for public comment and review through June. A final proposal will be presented to the Board for approval at its August meeting.

Board Of Ed Meetings Being Video Streamed

 
Don't expect the viewings to top the Hollywood box office blockbusters, but the State Board of Education meetings are now being video streamed live.

The effort is a partnership between the Department of Education and MI Streamnet to enable viewing of meetings from a desktop computer. Archives of meetings will be available for a year. The address is www.mistreamnet.com.

    

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