Today the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released its school report cards, which includes the list of schools meeting state standards through Adequate Yearly Progress. And among the most successful are , , , and .
These five schools are listed as "reward schools" - a new designation from the state - meaning they are in the top five percent of schools in Michigan and have made significant gains in academic progress during recent years.
“We applaud the hard work and achievement of the educators and students in our Reward Schools because they are zeroed in on improving learning,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan in a press release. “We need to instill that goal in so many more schools, in order to help all kids be career and college-ready and successful in life.”
The changes this year may not matter in the long run. Because of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) , the state in 2012-2013 will no longer be measuring districts based on AYP. Starting next year, school districts will receive accountability scorecards that use five different colors to recognize varying levels of achievement and accountability for each school and district.
Many districts statewide fail to meet AYP
While nearly all schools in the Plymouth-Canton district passed AYP, the more stringent requirements dropped many districts below AYP.
In total, 262 districts (48 percent) statewide did not make AYP, compared to 37 (6.7 percent) last year. At the school building level, 82 percent of schools made AYP across the state, compared to 79 percent last year.
The increase of schools not making AYP is due in part to the now used on the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) and MME (Michigan Merit Exam) tests. In addition, the state now factors graduation rates for all students into the calculations and also now includes the achievement of certain student populations who previously may have not been counted.
In the past, districts only needed to meet AYP targets at one of three levels - elementary, middle and high school. Now, they are required to meet them at all three.
Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman for the MDE, said this year's designations put a focus on the achievement gaps between students and really tries to highlight the need for all students to achieve success.
"The goal is to have all students proficient, not just some," she said, adding that in the past there was the ability to mask poor student performance because the focus was on those students who were doing really well.
The only school within the Plymouth-Canton district to not make AYP was , which did not receive a grade as no students met participation requirements.
Another measure of performance on the report cards is the Education Yes! grade, which is based on student achievement, achievement growth and self-assessments from schools.
, Bird Elementary, , Isbister Elementary, , , , Dodson Elementary and Workman Elementary all received the highest grade in the district, an "A," while received the lowest grade in the district, a "C."
and , two charter schools in Canton, also each earned "A" grades.
Assessments for South Canton Scholars Charter Academy, founded in 2011, were not provided.
New school designations
While AYP was designed to measure student achievement as required by the federal NCLB, the waiver, received last month, frees Michigan from following some of the NCLB rules.
As a result of the waiver, the MDE has identified three new school designations: reward schools, priority schools and focus schools. Not every school fits into one of these categories.
Reward Schools: The top five percent of all Michigan schools in the annual top-to-bottom ranking and the top five percent making the greatest academic progress over the past four years.
Bird Elementary, Isbister Elementary, Salem High School, Dodson Elementary and Workman Elementary all qualified as Reward Schools.
Priority Schools: Previously called persistently lowest achieving schools, these are now identified as those in the bottom five percent of the annual top-to-bottom ranking and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years. There were 146 priority schools identified this year. These schools will be required to come up with a plan to improve. None of them are in Plymouth-Canton.
Focus Schools: The 10 percent of schools with the widest achievement gaps, meaning the academic disparity between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent. That list includes 358 schools, many who in the past would be considered high-achieving. The schools are now charged with bridging the gap.
These schools include , , , Miller Elementary School, Field Elementary School from Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and Achieve Charter Academy and Canton Charter Academy.
“We are committed to closing the achievement gaps in all of our schools for all of our students,” Flanagan said in the release. “With this measure of transparency, schools will be identified and held accountable for the achievement of all of their students.”