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8 Rochester Schools Named 'Reward' Schools Under New State Designation

Another 9 schools are charged with bridging the gap.

Today the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released its school report cards, which includes the list of schools meeting state standards through Adequate Yearly Progress.

Among the most successful in the state are six elementary, one middle and one high school in Rochester.

The eight schools, listed below, are named "reward schools" - a new designation from the state - meaning they are in the top five percent of schools in Michigan and have made  significant gains in academic progress during recent years.

“We applaud the hard work and achievement of the educators and students in our Reward Schools because they are zeroed in on improving learning,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan in a press release. “We need to instill that goal in so many more schools, in order to help all kids be career and college-ready and successful in life.”

An additional nine schools in Rochester, also listed below, were named "focus schools," meaning because of a disparity between the highest-achieving and the lowest-achieving students, the schools are charged with bridging the gap.

Rochester passes AYP

In addition to the individual school ratings, the state ranked districts as a whole on the AYP standards. Rochester Schools received a passing AYP grade.

The district is among an elite group: this year, a surprising list of southeast Michigan school districts went from a passing AYP designation a year ago to failing today. In total, 262 districts (48 percent) statewide did not make AYP, compared to 37 (6.7 percent) last year. 

The increase of schools not making AYP is due in part to the more rigorous career and college-ready cut scores now used on the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) and MME (Michigan Merit Exam) tests. In addition, the state now factors graduation rates for all students into the calculations and also now includes the achievement of certain student populations who previously may have not been counted. In the past, districts only needed to meet AYP targets at one of three levels - elementary, middle and high school. Now, they are required to meet them at all three.

Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman for the MDE, said this year's designations put a focus on the achievement gaps between students and really tries to highlight the need for all students to achieve success. "The goal is to have all students proficient, not just some," she said, adding that in the past there was the ability to mask poor student peformance because the focus was on those students who were doing really well.

The changes this year may not matter in the long run because of the newly granted No Child Left Behind waiver, the state in 2012-13 will no longer be measuring districts based on AYP. Starting next year, school districts will receive accountability scorecards that use five different colors to recognize varying levels of achievement and accountability for each school and district.

'Focus' and 'reward' schools

As a result of the waiver, the MDE has identified three new school designations: reward schools, priority schools and focus schools. Not every school fits into one of these categories.

Reward Schools: The top five percent of all Michigan schools in the annual top-to-bottom ranking and the top five percent making the greatest academic progress over the past four years. In Rochester, these schools are:

  • Brewster Elementary School
  • North Hill Elementary School
  • Adams High School
  • University Hills Elementary School
  • Van Hoosen Middle School
  • Hugger Elementary School
  • Musson Elementary School
  • Delta Kelly Elementary School

Focus Schools: The 10 percent of schools with the widest achievement gaps, meaning the academic disparity between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent. That list includes 358 schools, many who in the past would be considered high-achieving.

The schools are now charged with bridging the gap. In Rochester, these schools are:

  • Baldwin Elementary School
  • Brooklands Elementary School
  • Hamlin Elementary School
  • McGregor Elementary School
  • West Middle School
  • Long Meadow Elementary School
  • Reuther Middle School
  • Hart Middle School
  • Hampton Elementary School

Debi Fragomeni, Rochester Schools' new Director of Curriculum for K-7th Grade, said it was important to note that a school designated a "focus school" does not mean students are in a low-performing school.

"What it does mean is that there is a gap between the top 30% high achievement scores and the bottom 30% low achievement scores in a particular school," Fragomeni said.

"Teachers and staff in focus schools will be using data and intervention strategies to continue efforts to close the achievement gap between high and low performing students and to affect positive changes in the classroom for all students."

Priority Schools: Previously called persistently lowest achieving schools, these are now identified as those in the bottom five percent of the annual top-to-bottom ranking and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years. There were 146 priority schools identified this year. These schools will be required to come up with a plan to improve.  None of them are in Rochester.

For detailed reports on the schools and the rankings, visit www.mischooldata.org and search by school or district.

Joshua Raymond August 02, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Focus schools mean "there is a gap between the top 30% high achievement scores and the bottom 30% low achievement scores in a particular school." This does not mean that the bottom 30% is scoring particularly low. The gap can also exist because the top 30% is scoring higher than in most schools because they have not been held down. We decided to switch schools within the district because the school we were at devoted enormous resources to struggling students but ignored those who were ahead. The school we moved to is one of the focus schools, but we recognize that much of that has to do with the top 30% being allowed to achieve at their own pace. The school we moved to has a school ranking of 99th percentile. It is still "considered high-achieving". In fact, it ranked second on the Top-to-Bottom list of all Rochester schools and one of only five RCS schools in the 99th percentile. It is unfortunate that the achievement gap is misunderstood and disqualifies many schools that are helping all students meet their potential from being "Reward Schools". "Closing the achievement gap by pushing down the top is like fostering fitness by outlawing marathons." – Helen Schinske
dk August 02, 2012 at 08:43 PM
First, congratulations to the teachers at Rochester Schools. Next, tell me again why Snyder and McMillin are taking away money from our kids to give to charter and virtual schools?
dk August 02, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/private-firms-eyeing-prof_n_1732856.html Instead of tax dollars going to our teachers and children, they are being turned into profits for corporations and CEOs. This November, remember to thank McMillin when you vote.
Kristin Bull (Editor) August 03, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Here is more information on the "focus schools," from the MDE. "The Michigan Department of Education will develop and provide a District Toolkit for districts that have Focus Schools. MDE will provide technical assistance to these districts on the use of the toolkits in the form of MDE-trained and paid-for District Improvement Facilitators. With the assistance of these facilitators, districts will have one year to self-diagnose and self-prescribe customized changes in their supports to the Focus Schools and their students. There are escalating supports and consequences for Focus Schools that do not close their achievement gaps." We are reading reports from across the state that there are aggressive deadlines for these schools to put together an action plan to close the gap.
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Thank you Oakland for linking that very informative article on the issue of privatization and the 'real' push behind educationa reform. So in essence this is the first step toward that goal. With less money and more regulations, we are being set up to fail and those corporations can come on and take over. And yes, even we liberals disagree with Obama on this one.
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Thank you Kristin as well for I just opened the letter regarding my daughters school and was left a bit befuddled.
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 04:15 PM
The term 'growth market' used in the same sentence as 'education' should scare the Bernie newbies out of all of us who really care about education.
Carol Jackson August 03, 2012 at 05:05 PM
As best I can tell, the RCS schools listed as "focus" schools have a more economically diverse student population; those listed as "reward" schools have a more uniformly well-off population. Is this an ignorant observation or is there data to support it? If the latter, is it true merely in Rochester or throughout the state? I ask you, Ms. Bull, to please look into this in your role as a reporter. Also, what is the status of those Avondale schools that pull kids in from Rochester Hills?
Kristin Bull (Editor) August 03, 2012 at 06:14 PM
We are, in fact, working on a follow-up story, Carol, with more information on the "Focus" schools. As for Avondale Schools, the district as a whole made AYP; Avondale Middle School was named a Focus School, as was Auburn Elementary School. The other individual schools were not designated.
Joshua Raymond August 03, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Kristin, I don't know if it is because you are an admin or perhaps posting from a mobile device, but it doesn't seem to email a "New Comment" update. Just an FYI for Patch's IT team.
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I teach at a "focus" school, not in Roch but close by- our district (from what I was told) hired an outside firm costing $250K to help us develop a "plan" to get off the list.Interesting since we are millions in the hole and laid off a ton and cut programs left and right. Part of the problem is we have a very high population of ELL/ESL and a huge chunk of uneducated parents- so the combo is a double hit. Let me say after working in this school for 8 years- we work harder to help these kids than a lot of other schools aka" reward" schools have to. Our kids are struggling with poverty, loss of parents either in rehab or they were taken away, uneducated/unemployed parents. Their (kids) day to day worries are "am I going to have food to eat for dinner" and " will our heat be shut off again" NO CHILD should have to worry about this- but from personal experience- they are. It makes it hard when they have no support at home,NO help with homework, no stable home life and YES it makes a difference. Look at the schools who are focus and priority vs reward schools- DIRECT Correlation between econonic hardship and schools who have lower scores. Troy, Utica and Rochester all have schools on the focus list and I bet money if you were to show those schools on a map-you would see what I am talking about.
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:30 PM
The sad thing is the state is STILL cutting education funds and the kids are the ones who suffer. We try as hard as we can but sometimes its like cutting off our arms and feet, blindfolding us and saying...here teach these 30+ kids and make sure they are pass the MEAP.
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:34 PM
the focus schools have that gap between the top 30% and bottom 30% based on MEAP scores and some others. I would visit this site and watch the powerpoints and read- very interesting. Also some schools who are focus/title 1 have to put 10% of their funds aside and allow parents to transfer their students out of the school and transportation will be provided.Letters to those schools have to go out by Aug. 21. ROCHESTER- curious what did your letters say?? There are schools who score a low% over all state wide but are not focus because they don't have that gap. Its all on the site: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-22709_62253---,00.html
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
yes there is data- lots of it...loll..watch the powerpoints its all there http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-22709_62253---,00.html
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:38 PM
TIME FOR US TO NOT ELECT THESE PEOPLE....ONLY WAY THINGS WILL CHANGE- Joanna VanRaaphorst is pro education....we need her in this seat.
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:39 PM
what did it say? did it mention about you being able to transfer your child and they provide transp? Im surprised Roch. sent those already....hmmm wonder when our district sends them. Again no warning to parents huh, how sad. thanks
M.M. August 03, 2012 at 06:40 PM
nicely put
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Heebie Jeebies......is what I meant to say......cant always trust those iphones in a rush.:)
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Absolutely Mel.......VOTE THEM OUT.....get out the word there is a new girl in town! Met Joanna at the gym.....very nice! Good to hear she is PRO-EDUCATION. Had my first ever oral surgery in January by her husband.........and would recommend him in a heartbeat! JOANNA VANRAAPHORST!
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 08:14 PM
There was no commentary regarding transfer of students. The list of schools with their designation in addition to the overall rating of 96% was relayed. I will look for the letter.........sure it is in a pile somewhere. Our school will be considered a Focus school but as Joshua has stated, there is room for the top 30 percentile to advance at a quicker pace as there are advanced classes. We will be new to this school so will be keeping close tabs.
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I totally agree Mel......parent involvement has so much to do with achievement........and economic disparity is what differentiates those who can stay involved with their child and those who cant. The motivation is there but the resources and time are not for these folks. I have had patients come in who are single mothers, working 2 jobs just to pay for tutoring services and therapy for their dyslexic children. Do you think they have time to help with homework and to provide decent nutrition?,,,,,nope, McDonalds on the run and constant shuttling..........so sad. You could say these are the fortunate ones. But most single moms dont have even these resources........
Cheryl Junker August 03, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Oh, interestingly enough, our elementary school was considered a reward school....

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