ESSA: Key Points

College- and Career-Ready Assessments:

  • The MDE should keep the M-STEP as the state assessment.
  • Dropping an already proven assessment in favor of a potentially low-quality and less rigorous assessment may create a dishonest portrait of how Michigan students are actually faring against college- and career-ready expectations.
  • Another change in assessments will cause delays for important accountability systems, because three years of the same assessment data is needed for making high-stakes decisions

School Accountability:

  • The proposed accountability system is a big step in the right direction for Michigan. The MDE should use the proposed accountability system in their final plan.
  • MDE’s measure of student growth should consider whether a student is making enough progress to meet grade-level expectations in a reasonable timeframe.

School Ratings:

  • The plan to use a single, clear rating for schools, based largely on academics is good for Michigan students. The MDE should use the proposed school ratings system in their final plan.
  • Factoring the results for each group of students equally is an important signal that schools must be accountable for serving all of their students well. The MDE should weigh each group of students equally for school ratings in their final plan.
  • Just as it is important to hold schools accountable, it is also important to hold school districts accountable. MDE should also give school districts individual ratings so that districts are held accountable for the role that they play in key school decisions.

Long-term School Goals:

  • Michigan’s long-term goals should reflect becoming a top ten education state.
  • It is important for all schools to have goals. Failing to set goals for a quarter of all Michigan schools sends the signal that they do not matter – which is unacceptable.
  • Michigan must set its sights higher than the goals outlined in the draft ESSA plan. Our goals should be achievable, but must be ambitious.

Interventions for Struggling Schools and Students:

  • MDE’s failure to disclose the methodology used to identify struggling schools is unfair to schools, educators and the public. MDE should disclose the methodology for identifying struggling schools in the final ESSA plan.
  • MDE should provide much greater clarity on the school improvement process for both low-performing schools and schools where one or more groups of students is struggling. This clarity around the school improvement process should be included in the final ESSA plan.

Public Reporting:

  • The plan to report data in a transparent and accessible way is good for Michigan. The MDE should include the proposed transparency dashboard in the final ESSA plan.
  • The transparency dashboard should prioritize factors that correlate with student success, like access to quality educators, discipline data, advance coursework completion, and postsecondary access and success.

Access to High-Quality Educators for Our Most Vulnerable Students:

  • MDE should create a clear definition of teaching quality, and actively support and monitor implementation of educator evaluation systems that were passed into law in 2015.
  • Districts should be held accountable for the strategic decisions that they make around ensuring that historically underserved students have equitable access to effective educators

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