Friday, September 20, 2013

Just who are those GREEN school districts?

Michigan's new school accountability scorecard was revealed this August with a color coding system that rivaling anything the Department of Homeland Security could ever devise. Based on academic achievement growth, achievement gaps, graduation rates, and a few other factors, schools and districts were color-coded either GREEN, LIME GREEN, YELLOW, ORANGE or RED.

A super-majority of school districts were rated YELLOW, none were coded LIME GREEN, and only thirty-nine out of more than 700 districts (including charter schools which under Michigan law are considered "school districts") were GREEN.

A total of 3,397schools and 873 districts received scorecards. Approximately three percent of schools received a green scorecard, 15 percent received red scorecards and 82 percent received yellow, orange or lime green scorecards. ~ Michigan Department of Education news release dated August 20, 2013

It is interesting to take a look at some of the demographics of school districts that constitute the GREEN group:

  • 23% (9) are one room schoolhouses or operate on one of the Great Lakes islands
  • 85% (33) have a total enrollment of under 500 students each
  • Average enrollment for all thirty-nine districts is 205 students
  • 36% (14) have enrollments of less than 100 students
  • 41% (16) had been in operation for only one year
  • 31% (12) had NO scorecard data despite an overall GREEN designation
  • 67% (26) are charter school districts with fifteen (58%) of those in their first year of operation
    •  1 of those charter school districts was actually closed in 2011-12
    • Average proficiency in math and reading (3-8 MEAP) for the charter school districts was 24%
Our State Board of Education lauded this new scorecard as a better growth model for accountability than our old "ED Yes!" system. But one has to wonder how any traditional school district can ever measure up to the 2013 GREEN group given the descriptions, above.

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