of Ed Faces $125,000 Fine
MIRS, January 25, 2005
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of Education (MDE) faces a $125,000 fine by the federal
government for not turning around the results of the 2004
Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) test for high
schools until more than a month into the 2004-2005 school year.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the state
must let school officials know if their students' performances
on a state standardized test were better than the students of
the year prior, a designation known as Adequate Yearly Progress
Most Michigan high schools opened their doors between Aug.
24-Aug. 30, but schools didn't know until Oct. 8 whether they
made AYP or not.
"It is important for parents and students enrolled in Title I
schools identified for improvement to know the AYP status of
their schools prior to the start of the school year so that they
can make informed decisions regarding public school choice and
supplemental educational services," wrote U.S. Department of
Education Secretary Rod PAIGE to state Superintendent Tom
WATKINS last Wednesday.
Since that didn't happen, the feds can take away three percent
of the "Title I, Part A administrative funds" it gave Michigan
in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, which equals out to $124,976.
State MDE officials said today they were appealing the fine,
arguing that they were caught between a rock and a hard place
when it came to meeting the federal deadline. Last year, state
law didn't allow the MDE to pass out the MEAP to high school
students until 30 days before the end of school, which means
that the test had been given out in May for the last seven
Under the way state law is crafted, MDE argued that it was
logistically difficult to get the scores out by late August. The
tests weren't graded until Aug. 1. It took two weeks for the
Department of Treasury to determine which students earned a
MDE needed a week to use these test results to craft the
Education YES! report cards. Once that was done around Aug. 25,
schools are given a two-week window to appeal. That closed in
mid-September, after which the MDE needed a few weeks to take
care of the appeals before finalizing the grades on Oct. 8. The
grades were released publicly Nov. 4.
The state's chief academic officer, Jeremy HUGHES, said the
federal government was kept informed and made well aware of
Michigan's situation and it was unfortunate that the feds still
opted to penalize the state for a situation that he said was
beyond its control.
"Our hands were tied by state laws that conflicted with the
requirements of the federal law," Hughes said.
MDE successfully lobbied the Legislature to change the law and
allow them to test the state's high schoolers in March. The bill
was introduced on Sept. 22 and signed into law Nov. 4. Watkins
said he was grateful for the Legislature's quick action.
"The Legislature recognized our urgent need for these changes
and went into action," Watkins said. "We presented this good
news to the (feds) as evidence of our Department's efforts to do
whatever we needed to comply with NCLB."
Michigan has until the end of the week to file its appeal,
according to Paige's letter. If MDE's reason for missing the
deadline doesn't fall within the fed's unspecified criteria for
"showing cause" Michigan's school system will be out $125,000.
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