Under Pressure, State Supt. Drops Accountability Plan

Under pressure from the State Board of Education, State Superintendent Brian Whiston has backed away from a plan that would have provided parents with clear, meaningful school accountability.

Superintendent Whiston had proposed replacing Michigan’s confusing color-coded report card and top-to-bottom ranking with a single rating of school quality. Largely based on academic measures, the single rating would have also included other important factors of school quality, such as chronic absenteeism and access to advance coursework and career technical education. The plan would have also prioritized equity, by including the success of all groups of students into a schools ranking.

Without clear school ratings, parents, educators and others are left to sort through pages and pages of numbers without any clear indication of whether a school is up to par. In the absence of clear and honest ratings, based on the academic performance of all student groups, it is all too easy for schools and districts to sweep student outcomes under the rug.

Opportunities in Michigan’s State Budget for Advancing Equity in Public Education

Earlier this morning, Ed Trust-Midwest released a brief on Governor Snyder’s school aid budget recommendation for fiscal year 2017-18, which begins in October. Our analysis focused on key areas of the governor’s budget recommendation, including proposed funds that would:

  • begin addressing Michigan’s major funding inequities. Michigan is currently among the most inequitable states when comparing high- and low-poverty school districts;
  • continue investments aimed at improving early literacy efforts statewide;
  • improve the quality of classroom instruction – the single greatest in-school factor for student improvement – by funding training for educators and administrators to implement systems of educator evaluation, feedback and support; and
  • attempt to better support low-performing schools and students.

Legislative committees are actively considering the budget recommendation and will work toward a final state budget by early summer.

The full brief on the fiscal year 2017-18 executive school aid budget recommendations is available here.

Teachers Stand Up for High Standards

Teachers from across the state sent a clear signal to Michigan legislators last week: maintain Michigan’s high academic standards.

Michigan’s five most recent Teachers of the Year, more than 200 math teachers and more than 1,100 science teachers wrote to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee, urging legislators not to lower expectations for students. The committee is currently considering House Bill 4192 (Glenn – R), which would replace Michigan’s high academic standards with outdated standards that Massachusetts abandoned nearly a decade ago.

Noteworthy News

Capital Update

House Workforce and Talent Development met today at 9 a.m. in Room 326 of the House Office Building. Agenda: HB 4181 and HBs 43154318, a package of bills that would make significant changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

House School Aid and Education Committee met today at 10:30 a.m. in Room 352 of the State Capitol Building. Agenda: Presentations on the Great Start Readiness Program and the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, and a presentation by Microsoft.

Senate K-12, School Aid and Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets tomorrow, March 22 at 8:30 a.m. in the Harry T. Gast Appropriations Room on the 3rd Floor of the State Capitol Building. Agenda:  A presentation on the Michigan Education Corps/Reading Corps.

House Education Reform Committee meets Thursday, March 23 at 9 a.m. in room 521 of the House Office Building. Agenda: HB 4166 (Whiteford – R) repealing provisions providing employment preferences for certain personnel in special education programs and services and a presentation on the Great Start Readiness Program.

Tweet of the Week

@EdTrustMidwest: .@TracyHorodyski #miched Teacher of the Year in opposition to #HB4192. On behalf of @rjoseph852 @melodyarabo @MR_ABUD @bobbijokenyon