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.