Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Schools struggle to make adequate yearly progress

Ohanian Comment: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan was quoted as saying that receiving a 21st Century education will prepare students for 21st Century jobs. According to the Michigan website with labor market information, the 21st century jobs with the highest job vacancy rate are Personal Care and Service occupations paying $7.21 an hour.

Kate Hessling and Megan Frounfelter-Decker

UPPER THUMB â Uncle Sam was a bit harsher in grading area high schools this year as the stateâs 2006-07 report cards released late last week show one local school did not make Adequate Yearly Progress, and the majority passed with a B average.

According to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report released Friday by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Owendale-Gagetown Senior High School did not make AYP.

The AYP is one of the cornerstones of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to MDEâs website.

In order for a district to make AYP, the district must test 95 percent of the students in total and in each required subgroup. A subgroup includes economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency, according to MDEâs website. Subgroups are reported separately when at least 30 students in a subgroup are tested on any state assessment test like the MEAP test.

Also, in order for a district to make AYP, the district must attain the target achievement goal in English language arts and mathematics or reduce the percentage of students in the non-proficient category of achievement by 10 percent, according to MDEâs website.

In addition, the district must meet or exceed the other academic indicators set by the state: graduation rate for high schools and attendance rate for elementary and middle schools. These achievement goals must be reached for each subgroup that has at least 30 students in the group.

According to the stateâs report released Friday, Owen-Gage did not make AYP because the district did not test at least 95 percent of its students.

âWhen weâre working with 20 to 25 students in a class, if just a couple of kids miss the test it puts us at 90 percent,â said Owendale-Gagetown Area School District Superintendent Dana Compton. âIn many circumstances itâs wonderful to have a small class size, but if we miss just two students we are below 95 percent.â

Schools that have not made AYP for two or more consecutive years are in a phase of school improvement and are considered High Priority Schools. These schools receive support from the MDE (which said on its website that it does not to intend to withhold funds from schools if a school doesnât make AYP), and acquire new responsibilities related to their phase of improvement.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the type of consequences and support for High Priority Schools depends on if the school or district receives Title I funding. These schools are referred to as Title I High Priority Schools.

Because Owen-Gage made AYP status last year, it will not become a High Priority School unless it does not make AYP status next year.

The school district has worked to restructure its language arts, math and science programs in order to improve its test scores.

âWeâve been doing some right things with school improvements,â Compton said. âWeâve reinforced the need for language arts throughout the curriculum. We expect growth in the future. Weâre convinced weâre moving in the right direction in each of those areas.â

District personnel also intend to enforce a plan that ensures each student participates in the testing process. In previous years, some students involved in outside activities such as taking courses at the Huron Area Technical Center may have missed the testing sessions, Compton said.

âWeâll be vigilant to make sure each student is accounted for in the testing process,â Compton said. âWe plan to monitor each student and monitor which students miss the test.â

The MDE issued a press release Friday saying the percentage of Michigan high schools not making AYP this past year increased by more than 9 percent.

The release said that for the 2006-07 school year, 489 high schools did not make AYP, compared to 399 high schools that did not make AYP the previous year.

Of the 489 schools not making AYP last year, 15 have been closed by their local school districts, according to MDEâs press release.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan was quoted in MDEâs press release as saying the reports results arenât unexpected.

âWe changed our high school graduation requirements because we knew we needed higher standards to prepare our kids for the demands of college and the work world,â he said in MDEâs release. âThese results just remind us how critical that change was.â

The reforms that have been put into place need time to work, Flanagan said, adding that recent changes in state law are paving the way for real success for all students and schools.

Those changes, according to the MDE release, include the new high school graduation requirements that are among the most rigorous in the nation; the new rigorous Michigan Merit Exam, which requires all Michigan high school students to take the ACT college entrance exam for the first time; and the new Michigan Promise scholarship that offers greater opportunity and access to higher education for Michigan students.

More than 300 high schools did not make AYP this past year because of low scores on the ACT-based Michigan Merit Exam, which tests students on subjects that many of them may not have taken, according to the MDE. This yearâs ninth-graders are the first to be required to take the more rigorous course work in order to graduate.

Flanagan noted that the state of Illinois, which also uses the ACT as its state high school test, saw an increase of 17 percent in the number of high schools not making AYP.

âAs students meet the new high school content and graduation requirements, they will have achieved Michiganâs promise of receiving a 21st Century education that will prepare them for 21st Century jobs,â Flanagan said.

The number of high schools receiving AYP Report Cards includes special education centers and alternative high schools. AYP Report Cards for public elementary and middle schools were reported in August.

With the reporting now complete for the elementary, middle, and high school levels, school districts also received their AYP reports. Of the 551 public school districts, Public School Academies, and Intermediate School Districts that receive AYP reports, 19 did not making AYP this past year, compared to four in 2005-06.

Regarding the results for Michigan high schools that were released Friday, Bad Axe Superintendent James Wencel said he was satisfied with the B score Bad Axe High School received.

âItâs getting tougher and tougher to make AYP because they ratcheted up what you have to do to get there and they changed the test,â he said. âSo the long and short of it is that weâre very pleased with where weâre at.â

Wencel said testing in the subgroups have made it difficult for some of the bigger high schools around the state. As a result of some of the subgroup testing, some of the schools Wencel considers to be premier Michigan high schools didnât make AYP this year, he said.

âThatâs where a lot of schools arenât making it ... because (subgroups) donât score as well,â he said. â(But) if you donât make it because your major population doesnât make it, then youâve got a big problem.â

Bad Axe was one of eight local schools to receive a B on its 2006-07 school year report cards. Port Hope was the only school in the local area to receive a C. Around the state, only 4 percent of Michigan schools netted an A grade, which is down 2.4 percent from last year, according to the MDEâs report issued Friday. Schools that received Bs this year were down 14.8 percent from last year.

A little below half of the high schools graded â 41 percent â received a C, which is an increase of 3.7 percent over last year.

The number of schools that received Ds also were in on the increase this year, with 4.4 percent more receiving a D than had last year.

— Kate Hessling and Megan Frounfelter-Decker
Huron Daily Tribune


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.