Challenging Work of Implementation, Improvement, Now Begins

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Dec. 19, 2018) – Ensuring that Michigan parents and community leaders have access to honest, meaningful and accessible information about local school quality is long-overdue in Michigan. Last night, Michigan lawmakers took a notable step toward providing this information in passing House Bill 5526. The bill now goes to Governor Snyder for his signature.

“Accountability alone does not improve schools – that only comes from the expertise and hard work of exceptional educators, school leaders and of course parents,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “But honest and transparent accountability systems have been shown to be an important lever for bringing attention and greater commitment to closing achievement gaps for vulnerable students and other areas for needed improvement.”

Michigan has taken a notable step forward in passing a bill that sets the framework for a more understandable accountability system that focuses first on academic measures,” added Arellano. “Now the challenging work begins: building upon this framework to ensure that every student matters and that teachers and schools are supported to improve.”

Unlike prior versions of the legislation, details of this system will be appropriately developed by the Michigan Department of Education, with oversight by a panel of appointees by the Governor and legislative leadership. Under the legislation, the Michigan Department of Education will give annual letter grades to public schools on each of the following measures:

  • Student academic proficiency;
  • Student academic growth;
  • English learner progress;
  • Graduation Rate (high schools only); and
  • Academic performance of students compared to students in demographically similar schools.

Schools will also receive a rating of “significantly above average” to “significantly below average” on chronic absenteeism, assessment participation and student group performance compared to the statewide average performance for the group.

“If signed by Gov. Snyder, the new law would bring greater public transparency about schools’ performance, which has been a weak point in Michigan’s new public reporting system,” Arellano added. “Now, the question is, could it be leveraged to support improvement in meaningful ways?  It’s critical that state leaders ensure this law is implemented based on best practice and research-based strategies.”

Over the past fifteen years, the quality of public education in Michigan has declined from about average to national bottom for nearly every group of students. During this time, parents and community leaders have frequently been left in the dark about the quality of their local schools because of lack of transparency, as well as frequent changes in data and reporting.

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The Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially for African American, Latino, American Indian, and low-income students. The Education Trust-Midwest believes in the power of intelligent education policy and practices — informed by data, research, and the successes of other states — to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.