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Last Updated: 04/12/2018


 Article of Interest - Education YES!

Another Deadline Doomed?
from MIRS, September 12, 2002
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Do it now or do it right. That is the dilemma facing the State Board of Education as it attempts to meet another self-imposed December deadline for implementing its accreditation system for Michigan's public schools, Education YES! – A Yardstick for Excellent Schools.

In an appearance before the Board today, Dr. Philip KEARNEY, chair of the five-member Board-appointed Accreditation Advisory Committee, seemed to be setting the stage for yet another delay.

Kearney said his committee would present its recommendations to the board in time at their Oct. 17 meeting. But he also laid out a 12-step procedure for testing and validating the performance indicators that will be used in the cut-score grading process to determine under achieving schools before putting them in place.

“If there is a time problem, it is in the area of performance indicators,” Kearney said. “There is so much to be done and so little time here to do it. I can't promise that the target on performance indicators can be met if it is going to be done right. You need to be sure the information is auditable.”

That warning sound distressed Republican board member Michael David WARREN, Jr.

“I'm troubled by what I'm hearing,” Warren said. “Since the board will have two-thirds of the information documented to determine a school's score, I would prefer we go with that rather than wait another six months.”

Performance indicators are one-third of the factors used to determine the school grade. The other two-thirds come from student test scores.

Although state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom WATKINS agreed that meeting the “self-imposed deadline” is important, he stressed the need to get it right over the need to get it done.

“We'll move as aggressively as we can, but given the challenges this department is facing — a 25 percent cut in the budget, 66 people going out the door [on early retirement], and filling only a portion of those vacancies even though some of those positions are federally funded — we are trying to meet the deadline,” Watkins said. He added that the Board's credibility should be questioned for “not getting the accreditation done in a year when it hasn't gotten done for years.”

An accreditation plan was adopted by the previous board and was scheduled to take effect in early 2001. Watkins and the current board scrapped that plan because it relied too heavily on the MEAP test scores.

Board President Kathleen STRAUS said the performance indicators were added, “so we wouldn't solely rely on the MEAP test. We have to do this right.”

Warren reminded his colleagues that the deadline was self-imposed for a reason. “The Legislature is breathing down our necks and has legislation introduced that would do it for us,” Warren said. “Whatever we have that is right ought to be released.”

Watkins said that is a policy decision board members will have to decide at its October meeting which could be pushed back a week to allow more time to study the accreditation committee's recommendations.

Asked if this issue might be the one to cause the unraveling of the Board's bipartisan spirit of cooperation, Warren replied, “It looks like it will be another year before we have a plan, so it could be.”

The Board adopted a resolution calling for an accreditation plan to be in place last June for elementary schools and this month for high schools. Those deadlines have come and gone. And based on today's discussion the December deadline may be in jeopardy. It's possible the crocus could bloom again next spring before a full school accreditation plan is in place.

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