Under ESSA, which replaced No Child Left Behind, every state must develop a plan it will use to improve educational outcomes for children and hold schools accountable and transparent for that success. The Michigan Department of Education initially submitted the plan last April, and resubmitted it in August after the U.S. Department of Education asked for further clarification on a few of the plan’s points.
“While the plan meets the statutory requirements, Michigan must not view this as a ceiling, but rather as a baseline upon which to build, strengthen and expand,” DeVos said in a statement. “All Michigan students deserve an education that prepares them for success in the 21st Century. I urge Michigan’s leaders to continue to find new and innovative ways to help students succeed.”
Major elements of the Michigan plan include:
• Partnership districts, which are districts with low academic performance, as well as other areas of need. These district will have to make a plan to improve by identifying holistic needs using the whole-child comprehensive needs assessment and crafting a plan with all partners at the table, such as the ISD, the board, tribal education departments, the education organizations, community organizations, foundations or other state agencies. The district will then have three years to show improved academic outcomes, as well as improved child outcomes on other measures before the state intervenes.
• Less testing: Michigan’s new testing in the plan calls for a fall benchmark test, an optional winter test and a required spring comprehensive assessment. The current assessment, M-STEP, will still be part of the system with fifth-graders, eighth-graders and 11th-graders taking the M-STEP science and social studies assessment.
• A new school score card: The new plan does away with the current system of a top-to-bottom school list and color-coded score cards, which used green, yellow and red to indicate proficiency, attendance and graduation rates. The new scorecard, available for parents and other members of the public on mischooldata.org, will have a dashboard displaying more than 20 measures that parents and other stakeholders have said are important to them when evaluating the quality of a school.
Elements of Michigan’s plan are already in the process of being implemented. The MDE started signed partnership agreement in May with 10 identified partnership districts, and St. Johns Public Schools superintendent Dedrick Martin was recently appointed as state school reform officer, which now includes directing the office of partnership districts.
The MDE also had a public survey earlier in November on the new dashboard score card, which is expected to be rolled out in early 2018.
“Thousands of stakeholders in Michigan helped build the components of our ESSA plan,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “It is designed by Michigan, for Michigan’s students and educators. We appreciate working with the U.S. Department of Education to get this dynamic plan approved. The pieces are in place now, and prepared to be implemented and succeed.”