Just 1.5% of Michigan Schools Earn Highest Accountability Rating

According to recent state data from the Michigan Department of Education, almost one half of the schools in Michigan are in need of improvement, with only 50 campuses — about 1.5% — attaining the highest accountability rating.

The schools are rated through a color-coded scorecard system. Schools are given one of six colors – green, lime green, yellow, orange, purple or red – according to how well they are meeting performance goals, such as test scores, along with the number of students tested, graduation rates and attendance rates, as well as teacher effectiveness and plans for school improvement. Schools that are given green are rated at the top, while red is the worst. Schools that were too new to offer enough academic data were given a rating of purple.

Almost 47% of the 3,361 schools rated were given yellow, meaning they needed some area of improvement, and 14% received red.

In a separate ranking, the state assigned a percentile rank to each public school based on test scores and four-year graduation rates. There were 27 schools in the state that ranked in the 99th percentile, meaning they are better than 99% of the schools in the state, while 28 schools scored a percentile ranking of 0%, reports Lori Higgins for The Detroit Free Press.

Also released were a "rewards" listing of school that perform highly or have shown great improvement; a "priority" list of schools in the bottom 5%; and a "focus" list of schools with large achievement gaps between students.

Over one-third of the "priority" schools from 2013 have improved enough to be removed from this list after receiving assistance from outreach specialists from Michigan State University (MSU) who offer on-site support throughout the school year.

"We help schools and districts build capacity to improve by really taking a look at what they are currently doing and finding new strategies that can be sustained," Markle said. "Our focus is on turnaround, not incremental school improvement."

In all, 78% of the schools that received additional support from MSU showed improvement.

There are still 138 schools on the "priority" list, almost one-half of which are on it for the first time.

The color-coding system is used by the state to comply with federal education law, requiring 100% of students to be proficient in reading and math by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

The US Department of Education is allowing the state to apply for a waiver that would lower that goal to having 85% of students proficient in reading and math by the 2021-2022 school year.

"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon," says Godwin Heights Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff. "We have seen some improvement from, 0 to 2% efficiency."

Michigan's four-year high school graduation rate is 74% for the 2010-2011 school year, ranking it 33rd among the states reporting data (Idaho, Oklahoma and Kentucky did not comply).

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