By Pat Maurer
Clare and Farwell School Districts have received a “yellow” ranking and Harrison an “orange” tag in the state’s new Accountability Scorecard, released recently.
The Michigan Department of Education has developed new criteria to rank components of Michigan schools on school accountability, based on a color system that gives points for testing, participation, evaluations and compliance with the Dashboard and Accountability Scorecard.
A “green” designation is the highest rank and means the district has scored 85 percent of the possible points. “Lime” relates to a score of 70 to 85 percent; “yellow means the district has scored points totaling 60 to 70 percent; an “orange” rank is for 60 to 50 percent and “red” is for less than 50 percent of available points.
Clare Superintendent Doniel Pummell explained the new system as follows:
Using newly adopted College and Career Readiness cut scores, MDE has developed a five-color code system for district and building-level Scorecards. In addition, MDE has also ranked schools on a Top-to-Bottom list, which may result in a specific school designation of Reward, Focus, or Priority.
Yellow scorecards are extremely common across the state, due to the number of additional factors that prevent a school from receiving a Green or Lime designation. As a common example, if a single subgroup is not on track to reach 85 percent proficiency or did not test over 95 percent of the population, then that one single subset of students will prevent a school or district from receiving a color higher than yellow.
In addition to a color designation, schools who test at least 30 full-year students also receive a percentile ranking on a Top to Bottom list. The ranking is based on student achievement, academic growth of all students and the gap between the highest and lowest scoring students in the school. The Scorecard color and the Top to Bottom Ranking are two separate measures that do not depend on each other.
Rankings compare public schools to every other public school in the state, according to a percentile. The percentile is not to be confused with a percent correct or a letter grade. For example, a school that ranks at the 65th percentile has out-scored 65% of the schools across the state.
According to information released by the MDA, statewide the Education Dashboard shows improvement in reading proficiency, math, the ACT composite scores and college readiness benchmarks and the dropout rate.
Slight declines were found in proficiency on Student Academic Growth for grades 3-8, the [Michigan Merit Exam] MME, four year graduation rate.
Locally, Clare Public School, with an overall yellow ranking, scored green in math, reading, social studies, science and writing scores and garnered a yellow rank in the completion rate.
Pummell explained, “We are rated “Yellow” over-all for a few reasons. Firstly, the state tracks the Bottom 30% of our students. These are the students that have achieved at the lowest levels on all tested areas from year to year. It is our goal to help these students improve from year to year. These students showed improvement in the area of reading and were “green” which is excellent; however, they are still struggling in the other tested areas and were “red.” Our data shows over 1000 students tested and about 200 fall into this bottom 30 percent. Another area is Economically Disadvantaged, ED. We celebrate that of the five tested areas, these students rated “green” in four of the five areas! A third group is our Students with Disabilities: Two areas were tested- math rated “green” and reading rated “red.” For these students reading is an area for which we put much support, and we will plan to put more in an attempt to help them. Lastly, our students at Pioneer struggled across the board with the assessments. Ratings of “red” were earned in all areas.”
She continued, “When we take our data and mesh it with what the state rating explanation, we are “yellow” due to Pioneer, our Bottom 30 percent, the one area with our ED group and the one area with our students with disabilities.”
Farwell, also with a yellow ranking overall, scored a green for all tests and the completion rate. Superintendent Carl Seiter said, “The [overall score of] yellow comes from having a red score in one of the sub-groups. These sub-groups are broken down into Students with Disabilities, Economically Disadvantaged Students and a new category called Bottom 30%. The district did not meet expectations with the Bottom 30% sub-group. Additionally, each district in the Clare-Gladwin RESD showed similar results with the Bottom 30 percent sub-group. I think the creation of the new sub-group represents the state’s effort to encourage schools to work harder on “all students.”
He added, “Regardless of the system, Farwell Area Schools has implemented a program that will increase student achievement. Data collected from last year’s first and second grade pilot reflects marked improvement of our students. I am very excited to get the new year started.”
Harrison, who has an orange rank, also scored green with all tests and the completion rate. Superintendent Tom House said, “Like many other districts in the State, we are still learning what the new State system tells us about our ranking and our student achievement.” He continued, “Of course we are concerned about the origin of the ranking, especially since we have many areas that are green and yellow. I believe it has to do with the proficiency levels of the students in the lower 30 percent of achievement scores and our administrators and building teams will be planning strategies to address that achievement gap.”
Both Beaverton and Gladwin Schools scored green with test scores and completion rate and had an overall designation of yellow as well.
The Clare-Gladwin RESD School also earned an overall yellow designation, scoring green for math, reading and science, but a red in writing.
Beaverton’s Creative Learning Academy, a charter school with 60 students in grades K-8, was the only school in the Clare-Gladwin RESD to receive a green ranking overall.