State passes progress portion of accreditation system
Gongwer 11-14-02 State Board of Ed Approves Federal
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State passes progress portion of accreditation
by Dee-Ann Durbin, The
Associated Press, November 14, 2002
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Up to 15
percent of Michigan's elementary and middle schools could soon
find out they're not meeting state standards for student
progress under a plan passed Thursday by the State Board of
The passage of the plan brought the state closer to completing
its accreditation system, which will start giving letter
grades to schools sometime next year.
The grades are based on Michigan Educational Assessment
Program scores and other factors. High schools will be getting
grades later than elementary and middle schools.
The portion of the accreditation system passed Thursday
requires schools to ensure that all students -- including
special education students, minorities, the poor and those for
whom English is a second language -- are making progress in
reading and math each year.
Progress will be measured by the number of students who reach
proficiency on the MEAP tests. Each school will have its own
progress scale and goals that it is expected to reach each
year over the next 12 years.
The progress requirement was part of the federal No Child Left
Behind Act signed by President Bush earlier this year.
Edward Roeber, a member of the state's accreditation
committee, said he expects between 400 and 500 elementary and
middle schools won't meet the state's standards based on
reports that schools have been sending.
Before the federal law passed, Michigan planned to require
schools to show progress in science and social studies as well
as math and reading. Board members balked when they found out
that would mean up to 1,500 Michigan schools would be on the
federal list as needing improvement.
After meeting with former Bush education adviser Sandy Kress
last week, board members said it would be better to make the
state plan match the federal law, which only requires progress
in math and reading. That change will mean fewer Michigan
schools on the federal watch list.
Superintendent Tom Watkins said the state will continue to
make sure science and social studies scores are improving. The
state grades will continue to take those scores into account.
"I want to be very clear. I will not support lowering
standards," he said.
Schools that are failing to help all students make progress
could find out by January or February that they are on the
state's watch list and need to make changes.
If the schools fail to improve within three years, students
may start attending other schools, with the cost of
transportation paid by their school district. If nothing
improves within six years, the schools could face closure,
state takeover or faculty replacement.
The decision to approve the measure came after months of
debate about how best to blend Michigan's accreditation system
with the new federal law.
Under the accreditation system, Michigan will issue grades of
A, B, C, D, D-Alert or Unaccredited to schools. Schools would
be able to raise those grades if they are meeting the annual
progress standards for all students.
Roeber said the data may surprise many schools, who may have
pockets of students who aren't performing well.
Kress, who joined the state board's meeting by telephone,
praised Michigan's efforts to blend federal and state law.
"It seems to be a very creative and logical way to both follow
your own direction and comply with the federal law," Kress
Still, there was some dissent on the board. Sharon Gire, a
Democrat from Macomb County's Clinton Township, said the state
may be setting unrealistic expectations for improvement
without giving schools any direction on how to meet them.
"Are we creating something that's impossible to jump over?"
Other board members insisted that Michigan's expectations must
"We need to have the highest standard for our kids and not
worry about the feelings of adults," said Michael Warren, a
Republican from Beverly Hills.
The board's action Thursday brings Michigan closer to a Jan.
30 deadline to be in compliance with the federal law.
The board plans to set cut-off scores for the accreditation
grades when it meets in December.
MI STATE BOARD OF
EDUCATION APPROVES FEDERAL PROGRESS STANDARDS
Gongwer News Service,
November 14, 2002
Schools should know in the coming few weeks if they will
have to implement choice programs or other sanctions under the
federal No Child Left Behind Act with the State Board of
Education's approval Thursday of adequate yearly progress
standards. The board also approved further alterations to the
Education YES! accreditation plan, but put off voting on cut
scores for portions of that system until December.
Following recommendations of education consultant Sandy Kress,
one of the lead developers of the federal act, the board
adjusted the state's adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards
to look only at mathematics and reading scores on the Michigan
Educational Assessment Program tests. And most of the schools
not meeting the new standards will have to begin planning to
restructure next year.
Under the standards, schools with a fourth grade class would
have to have 48.8 percent of students proficient in
mathematics and 38.5 percent proficient in reading. For
seventh grades, schools must have 32 percent proficient in
reading and for eighth grades they must have 32.8 percent
proficient in mathematics. The scores represent a school at
the 20th percentile statewide.
The board also officially set proficient as scoring in level 1
or 2 in math and Satisfactory in reading. The reading level
will change next year when the MEAP moves to a language arts
test that includes both reading and writing and where scores
are broken into four levels-exceeds state standards (Level 1),
meets state standards (Level 2), basic (Level 3) and below
basic (level 4)-as they already are on the other tests.
While the yearly progress standards were approved unanimously,
board Vice President Sharon Gire (D-Clinton Township) objected
to the proficiency standard, arguing it was too stringent
given what other states are considering.
"Our kids are doing very well. Does it reflect well that over
half (of schools) are failing?" Ms. Gire said. "We have to be
careful that we don't set up expectations for kids that those
who aren't 'As' are failures."
And board member Herbert Moyer (D-Temperance), though
supporting the standards, said the board needed to be careful
to be realistic. "We're going to have to drag along some
perspective once in awhile," he said. "We've been politicized
in the process of trying to educate kids."
But other board members argued the proficiency standards,
which had been in use since the federal government first began
requiring adequate yearly progress designations in 1995, were
appropriate considering the expectations on students.
"Is it unreasonable to expect all our students to be 'As' and
'Bs'? No," said member John Austin (D-Ann Arbor). "As a
nation, will we fail? Yes because we're human."
"The purpose of the standards is to ensure that our students
have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the 21st
Century," said board Secretary Michael Warren (R-Beverly
Hills). "We should not worry about the feelings of adults (on
seeing the numbers of "failing" schools). ...We have to stop
hiding behind false numbers and false standards and say there
are thousands of kids not being served by the current system."
Edward Roeber, a member of the board's accreditation task
force helping it to put final shape on Education YES!, said
the standards will leave Michigan with high numbers of schools
needing improvement compared to other states, but he said
other states will catch up to that number as other states
adopt more appropriate proficiency measures and actually begin
reporting AYP figures.
Though states were supposed to begin reporting AYP in 1995,
Michigan was one of the few states to actually do so and so is
one of the few states to see schools nearing the sanction of a
forced reorganization. Under the federal law, that
reorganization could range from changing curriculum to hiring
consultants to replacing staff to closing the school.
Under the federal law, schools in their first and second years
of not meeting AYP are allowed to work to improve. In the
third year, they must offer students the choice of another
school within the district not under sanctions for failing to
meet AYP and must offer transportation to that school. In the
fourth year, schools must offer to pay for tutoring programs
through vendors approved by the state (a list still in
development). In the fifth year, schools must develop a
restructuring plan and in the sixth year must implement that
Using the standards approved by the board, the Department of
Education initially estimated that 807 elementary and middle
schools could be listed as failing to meet AYP for the current
school year. Of those, 149 would be required to offer choices
of other schools in the district and 486 would have to be
writing plans to restructure next year.
But DOE Chief Academic Officer Jeremy Hughes did not release
names of any of those schools because he said those numbers
are still unofficial. Most of the schools involved are
identified both by school wide scores and by the scores of one
or more minority groups within the school. But there is still
some concern that the racial and ethnic identification of
students in many schools is inaccurate, making those minority
group designations inaccurate, he said.
Some of the schools may also be pulled for the list for
helping the lowest minority group move up, he said. Schools
are given "safe harbor" from sanctions if they can reduce by
10 percent the number of students in the lowest-scoring group,
be that either the whole school or one minority, who do not
make proficiency. He said those numbers were not yet
Mr. Roeber said Michigan could expect the number of schools
not making AYP to climb. Out of the 2,480 elementary and
middle schools, he said the state could expect to see as many
as 2,000 of those on the list in coming years. And he said
other states should expect to see similar numbers as they move
closer to the 2014 deadline when all schools are expected to
have all students scoring at the proficient on a statewide
Mr. Hughes said he hopes to see a list of schools not meeting
AYP standards out before schools break in December, allowing
them to implement any required sanctions, mostly offering
choice and transportation to that choice, by the beginning of
School choice groups have chastised the department for waiting
this long to develop the AYP standards, arguing the choice
options, which apply to schools in their third and fourth year
of not meeting standards, were supposed to be offered at the
beginning of the year.
ACCREDITATION: In light of discussions with Mr. Kress last
week, the board approved a new structure for Education YES!
that once again removes the federal standards from
consideration in developing the composite grade for a school.
Federal AYP standards, instead of being part of the MEAP
change score, are now a modifier on the composite score.
Under the new structure, a school earning an "A" overall would
drop to a "B" if it did not meet AYP standards. A school
earning a "D" or an "F" overall would move up a grade if it
was able to meet AYP standards.
The change allows the state to meld the two systems for
looking at school performance without having to seek waivers
from the federal government for applying its standards or
change the Michigan standards to meet the federal law.
The system also allows the state to prioritize the assistance
it provides to schools, giving the most help to schools with
final grades of "F" (unaccredited) or "D." While federal law
requires assistance to all schools not meeting AYP standards,
the system would allow those schools with "B" or "C" final
grades to be given a lesser priority for that assistance.
The board did not, as originally anticipated, approve cut
scores for the MEAP-related portions of the accreditation
system, though it received a report proposing cut scores from
the accreditation task force.
Ms. Gire was concerned at the small intervals between various
grade levels (for elementary reading status, an "A" would be a
scale score of 312 or higher, while an "F" would be 293 or
below), arguing that made the cut scores look less reasoned.
But Mr. Roeber said the overall system looks at a three-year
average of scores for each of the three categories-status,
change and growth. Status is the current average score for the
building, while change is the score movement for the building
from the previous test and growth is the average score
movement for individual students from the previous test.
Because the scores are essentially averages of averages, he
said there would likely be little movement year to year in any
score. Board members asked for some examples for the next
meeting on what kind of changes a school would have to show in
its annual MEAP scores to change its grade for any of the
Mr. Hughes said development of the performance indicator
scores was still under way and he would not know how quickly
those scores-in areas such as parental involvement and
offering of arts programs-would be available until he got an
update on the pilot program currently running.