Contents of this issue:
  • Students pilot computerized MEAP testing

  • Districts receive grants to research school health centers

  • Flint district resorts to mall sweeps for truants

  • EDITORIAL: Superintendent issue highlights school funding

  • Ionia High School installs "objective" video surveillance system


STUDENTS PILOT COMPUTERIZED MEAP TESTING
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Some 2,000 sixth-graders throughout Michigan will be piloting a new program to take selected MEAP tests on individual laptop computers to determine the efficiency of computer-administrated testing, according to the Soo Evening News.

These 2,000 students will take the language arts and social studies tests via computer in October when the MEAP is administered statewide. Currently, paper tests from every student in the state must be sent to a central agency that calculates and compiles each student's scores, a process that takes 6-7 weeks. The computerized system "is about the efficiency," said Michelle Ryban, an administrator at the Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD. "The cost-savings will be phenomenal," Ryban added.

Funding for the computers was provided by state and federal grants to the ISD; districts in the Eastern Upper Peninsula system have received 2,600 laptop computers. Ryban told the Evening News she believes computer exposure has helped students become more engaged in their schooling, and hopes to expand computer use for all ages. "Our ISD has done a fabulous job exposing students from kindergarten on up," she said.

SOURCES:
Soo Evening News, "EUP students to test 'efficient' MEAP system," June 2, 2005
http://www.sooeveningnews.com/articles/2005/06/01/news/news422.txt

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Does the MEAP Measure Up?" December 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3919

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "POLICY BRIEF: Which Educational Achievement Test Is Best for Michigan?" May 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4382

Michigan Education Report, "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," Spring 2000
http://www.mackinac.org/2872

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Giving Laptops to Sixth Graders Won't Improve Their Education," July 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/5572


DISTRICTS RECEIVE GRANTS TO RESEARCH SCHOOL HEALTH CENTERS
JACKSON, Mich. — The state of Michigan announced last week it would provide 23 school districts with planning grants to assess the necessity and feasibility of school-based mental and physical health centers, reported The Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Of the 23 districts given planning grants, 12 will be selected for the development of health centers, paid for by a $10.5 million state program to support the initiative. Jackson Public Schools and Albion Public Schools both received about $60,000 grants for fact-finding, according to The Citizen-Patriot. "We feel confident we certainly have the need," said JPS Service Learning Coordinator Becky Mehall. "We're going to be getting as much information as we can. We want to put together the best plan possible."

The centers would be targeted at students who have little or no health insurance coverage; some centers that currently exist provide dental and medical assistance. "Because we have a captive audience in our schools whose health needs aren't getting met, we can help them," JPS Health Education Coordinator Linda Meeder told the Citizen-Patriot.

JPS recently opened a health center at its Northeast Elementary School. The state's grant announcement last week also included a $175,000 supplement to that program.

SOURCES:
The Jackson Citizen-Patriot, "Schools plan for health centers," June 2, 2005
http://www.mlive.com/news/jacitpat/index.ssf?/base/news-13/111772654687770.xml

Michigan Education Report, "Parents, not schools, must ultimately be responsible for children," Winter 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3224


FLINT DISTRICT RESORTS TO MALL SWEEPS FOR TRUANTS
FLINT, Mich. — The fight against truancy has reached a new level in the Flint School District, as evidenced by a sweep at local Flint malls late last month that netted 14 truant students.

The Flint Township and Burton police, along with district representatives, searched out truants at the Courtland Center and Genesee Valley Malls on May 26. Four of the students were Flint students and the others were from other districts, according to The Flint Journal.

The sweeps parallel an initiative by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton to prosecute parents of chronically absent students. Leyton told The Journal he would be bringing a case against one mother whose children have missed over 30 days at Flint's Washington Elementary this school year. But he also plans to address cases throughout the county. "This is a countywide problem. We're going to attack it in a countywide fashion," Leyton said.

Though the district has not studied specific data on the efficacy of its sweeps for truant students, anecdotal evidence may show that the program is working, said acting Director of Pupil Personnel Services Larry Watkins. "We have individual cases where we've seen the attendance improve," Watkins told The Journal. "We do know parents do not like having a police officer and school official show up on their porch and knock on their door because their child is not attending school."

SOURCE:
The Flint Journal, "Schools shop area malls for truants," June 5, 2005
http://www.mlive.com/news/fljournal/index.ssf?/base/news-29/1117974036284210.xml


EDITORIAL: SUPERINTENDENT ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS SCHOOL FUNDING
PONTIAC, Mich. — An editorial published yesterday in The Oakland Press stated that Michigan's new state superintendent of public instruction reportedly supports revisions in the state's education funding system that would require on-going annual expenditure increases for education.

The fact that the state superintendent is elected by a government body is an anomaly in Michigan, said The Press, as most state posts are appointed positions as outlined in the 1963 state constitution. "Even then, apparently, educators expected and got special consideration," said The Press, which expressed opposition to recently-introduced legislation that would mandate "an annual increase that would match the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less."

Because citizens have no fixed guarantee of future income, said The Press, "neither local education nor any other government function can have a fixed claim on the public's assets," especially considering that, "School spending mainly affects employee pay and benefits, not what goes on in the classroom."

SOURCES:
The Oakland Press, "State schools shouldn't count on annual increase in funds," June 6, 2005
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/060605/opi_20050606002.shtml

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?" August 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3683

Michigan Education Report, "Proposal A provided more money, but better management needed," Fall 2001
http://www.educationreport.org/3908

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Finance Reform Lessons from Michigan," October 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/3802

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts," December 2002
http://www.mackinac.org/4891


IONIA HIGH SCHOOL INSTALLS "OBJECTIVE" VIDEO SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM
IONIA, Mich. — Ionia High School administrators told the Ionia Sentinel-Standard last week that its new, multi-thousand dollar video security system adds safety to the school's hallways and allows administrators to objectively settle problems between students.

The system, which is valued at $30,000, was sold to the school by Vision Technology International for $15,000. The new system greatly improves on the school's old black-and-white cameras, according to the Sentinel-Standard. "Things have tightened up around here," said School Liaison Police Officer Randy Woodbury. "We now have more tools to keep the school secure."

Administrators said the system allows them to keep an objective eye on behavior in the hallways, helping them to resolve conflicts without relying solely on the accounts of students who were involved. "We can just take a look at the camera on a specific day and time, and know exactly what happened," Woodbury said.

SOURCE:
Ionia Sentinel-Standard, "Ionia High School is looking for trouble," June 4, 2005
http://www.sentinel-standard.com/articles/2005/06/04/news/01news.txt


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of 130,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at
med@educationreport.org.

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