MDE releases school accountability scorecards

MANISTEE — Manistee County school officials joined representatives from districts across the state in reviewing school accountability grades released this week from the Michigan Department of Education

Onekama Consolidated Schools math teacher Michelle Warman makes a point with two students  during class. Schools across the state were given their accountability scorecards this week by the Michigan Department of Education. All of the area school districts showed progress.

Onekama Consolidated Schools math teacher Michelle Warman makes a point with two students during class. Schools across the state were given their accountability scorecards this week by the Michigan Department of Education. All of the area school districts showed progress.

(MDE).

The Michigan School Accountability Scorecards combine student assessment data with graduation or attendance rates as well as information on compliance with state and federal laws. The Scorecard is a diagnostic tool that gives schools, districts, parents, and the public an easy way to see a school’s or district’s strengths and weaknesses by using proficiency scores, participation, graduation rates, race and economic status.

In depth analysis of why each local district received the grades it did can be found online at mischooldata.org.

The Michigan School Accountability Scorecards are a replacement to the Michigan School Report Cards that were required under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to report Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Michigan received an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver from the U.S. Department of Education in July 2012 that replaced it.

This will be the last year that the state will use the color coded score cards as the MDE is in the process of creating a new accountability system that will be in compliance with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

State superintendent Brian Whiston said the scorecards are directed to having school results more accessible to the general public.

“With the continued improvements to our state assessment system, we promised to still be transparent and hold schools accountable for student achievement.,” said Whiston.

The Department of Education grades schools by using a five color system. Going from highest to the lowest school ranks are assigned with the colors green, lime, yellow, orange and red.

“These scorecards are a good diagnostic tool for local schools to drive improvement and instruction,” said Whiston. “Schools are able to look at their data and see which groups of students need more attention and individualized instruction.”

Manistee Area Public Schools were given a yellow rating that was acquired by most schools in the state. MAPS administrator Julia Raddatz who handles data analysis for the district said they were happy with the results.

“There has been huge improvements in the last three years and we are really proud of where we are right now,” said Raddatz. “We have been keeping track of our indicators since 2011 and every year they have improved, so this year it was really good to see that come out.”

Raddatz said at the district levels they increased their score, as last year they received an orange grade and this year they moved up to yellow.

“A portion of the district’s metrics are based on our graduation rates and five years ago our graduation rate was red (the lowest) and now this year we are green, so we went from the lowest to the highest during that time,” Raddatz said.

Those numbers are used to place schools on the state focus list. Schools placed on that list have too large of a gap between their the scores of their highest and lowest achieving students. Currently MAPS is the only district in the county with a focus school.

“The Manistee Middle School was identified as a focus school in the 2013-14 school year and they haven’t gone through the cycle enough to get off that list,” she said. “Jefferson Elementary School was on it, but they got off. We are moving closer and closer to get off that list for our other school, but we still have some work to do on it.”

Bear Lake/Kaleva Norman Dickson schools dual superintendent Marlen Cordes said he was pleased to see both of his districts recorded lime colors which were the highest scores in the county.

“I would say that overall we are satisfied with that ranking,” said Cordes. “However, even though there are things that we are proud of, that we know we do well, we also know there are some areas that we need to improve on and we will focus on those moving forward.”

Onekama Consolidated Schools also received a yellow rating for the 2015-16 school year. Principal Gina Hagen said they plan to continue moving in a positive direction.

“We are pleased with our scores,” said Hagen. “There is always room for improvement, the scores give us a direction for the future.”

CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst was happy with the yellow rating that her school system achieved in the accountability scorecard.

“The MDE was looking at us differently to score alternative schools just because we serve a different population where the students tend to be at different levels,” said VanVoorst. “That I think is going to be rolled out in the next year and because our student population is so low a lot of  times we show small amounts of progress in moving forward, so we tend to stay in that safe harbor mode.”

Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy which is also included in Manistee County received a yellow rating.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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