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.
for the second straight year, while made the cut. While all individual Fenton schools passed AYP, the district failed to pass because of the graduation rates of two subgroups, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. Lake Fenton passed as a district, but the high school failed to meet requirements for participation of economically disadvantaged students.
Neither had any schools 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) waiver granted from the federal government, 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.
Fenton elementary schools receive high grades
While all schools in the district passed AYP, Fenton Area Public Schools as a whole did not, failing to meet standards in math and reading, according to the MDE. Fenton Superintendent Tim Jalkanen said the district failed to pass because of the graduation rates of two subgroups, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.
Fenton also . 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.
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.
Fenton High School and Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School received a "C," while the elementary schools North Road, State Road and Tomek-Eastern each received a "B."
"We worked very hard and are pleased with those results," Jalkanen said. "Our goal is to increase those next year."
He said the school has since implemented tools and programs to help show teachers where improvement is needed.
"We want to do better and we expect to see those results reflected in the fall of 2012," Jalkanen said.
The increase of schools not making AYP is due in part to the more rigorous career and college-ready cut scores now used on the (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.
Lake Fenton District meets AYP
While Lake Fenton High School did not make AYP on its own, the district did.
The high school received a "D" grade and failed to meet AYP requirements with economically disadvantaged students in participation, said Julie Williams, executive director for the Lake Fenton Community Schools
She said high school students' scores have been improving.
"We have seen improvements in scores across the board, but the growth isn't quite towards the target expected of us," she said.
Lake Fenton Middle School, Torrey Hill Intermediate School and West Shore Elementary each received a "B" grade.
"We are very proud of our buildings. There was significant changes and our kids continued to perform and improve," Williams said. "But we have some work to do to improve. It will be a topic of discussion for administrators."
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.
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 Brighton.
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.
“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.”