Contents of this issue:


  • Teacher-led school tests variety of reform ideas
  • Britton, Deerfield merger going smoothly, officials say
  • DPS opens $5.6 million police headquarters
  • Study says some taxpayers get more bang for school bucks
  • New charter high school planned in Ypsilanti

Teacher-Led School Tests Variety of Reform Ideas


DETROIT — A teacher-led school in Detroit is testing a variety of academic reforms even as it serves as a test case for more teacher control of education, Education Week magazine reported. School leaders have implemented academic grouping, extended days, data analysis and improved professional development, according to the article.

Teachers are gradually assuming administrative duties at the school, Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, part of Detroit Public Schools, in a new arrangement between the Detroit Federation of Teachers and central administration, Education Week reported.

In addition to an extended day, the school regroups seventh- and eighth-graders regularly into English and math classes based on their mastery of material, according to Education Week. Teachers meet daily to discuss student progress and review data from quarterly tests, the report said. Administratively, four teachers are being trained in school governance, such as how to run budget meetings, the report said.

“It’s so much easier to move the kids and challenge them and address them when they need more attention,” lead teacher Ann K. Crowley told Education Week about the regrouping process. “It’s like an (individualized education plan) for each child.”

One difficulty was in finding teachers who wanted to participate in the flexible scheduling, Education Week reported. The district is monitoring academic progress and other indicators, such as attendance, but it’s too early to gauge results, administrators told Education Week.

SOURCE:
Education Week, “Teacher-Led School Innovates with Student Regrouping,” Jan. 18, 2011 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, “Teachers to run DPS elementary School,” July 13, 2010


Britton, Deerfield Merger Going Smoothly, Officials Say


BRITTON, Mich. — Students are already in classrooms together, though the official merging of the Britton-Macon and Deerfield school districts won’t come about until July 1, according to The (Adrian) Daily Telegram.

Grades six through 12 have been combined since September, The Telegram reported; middle school students attend classes in Deerfield and high school students in Britton. A preschool program has been expanded to both campuses, The Telegram reported, and teachers are working toward a common curriculum for elementary grades.

The districts have yet to negotiate a joint collective bargaining agreement with teachers; existing contracts become void at the time of the merger, The Telegram reported. Currently, Britton-Macon teachers have a higher pay scale. Teachers have named a bargaining team that will meet with school board representatives, according to the report.

The districts have had a joint athletic program since 1993, according to The Telegram. Both schools will host separate graduations for the last time this year.

“I like it because there’s more people,” freshman Taylor Cousino told The Telegram.

One advantage to educators is that they now teach multiple sections of the same course, meaning fewer lesson plans to prepare and the opportunity to focus more on each class, Superintendent Charles Pelham told The Telegram.

SOURCES:
The (Adrian) Daily Telegram, “This summer, Britton-Deerfield school merger will be complete,” January 20, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, “Merger talks end in Arenac County,” April 22, 2009


DPS Opens $5.6 Million Police Headquarters


DETROIT — A high-tech, $5.6 million police headquarters for Detroit Public Schools is now open, according to The Associated Press. Part of the district’s $41.7 million “security initiative,” the building allows for video surveillance of the interiors and exteriors of all school district buildings, including closed buildings, AP reported.

The 23,000-square-foot facility houses a 70-officer meeting room, interview rooms, five holding rooms for juveniles and one for adults, kennels for three police dogs, and a workout area, according to AP. It will serve as a command center for the 113-member department.

Police Chief Roderick Grimes said video surveillance and an alarm system will allow the department to respond more efficiently to incidents, AP reported.

Shootings have plagued the district in recent years, the report said.

The facility was paid for as part of the $500.5 million bond issue for capital improvements that voters passed in 2009.

SOURCE:
The Associated Press, “Detroit Schools opens new police headquarters,” Jan. 20, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, “Schools cutting, but also building,” Jan. 19, 2010


Study Says Some Taxpayers Get More Bang for School Bucks


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A national study correlating school spending with academic results shows that taxpayers in some school districts are getting more bang for their buck, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

In a related article, Education Week reported that the study showed that the most productive districts were those that spent relatively more on teachers and less on administration; were willing to make unpopular decisions like closing schools; and partnered with local communities.

The Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank, recently released its review of “educational productivity” in 46 states, which shows that some public school districts spend relatively less money and achieve higher test scores, while the reverse is true in other districts, The Press reported. Each district was given a “return on investment” score.

The study, which uses primarily data from 2007-2008, takes into consideration student poverty levels and cost of living, according to the Center for American Progress website.

In Michigan, for example, Comstock Park Public Schools received among the state’s highest scores, while a number of urban districts ? Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids ? ranked in the lowest tier, The Press reported.

SOURCES:
The Grand Rapids Press, “Report says Comstock Park schools is getting results with its cash,” Jan. 21, 2011

Center for American Progress, “Return on Educational Investment,” January 19, 2011

Education Week, “Sweeping study weighs school districts’ ‘educational productivity,’” Jan. 19, 2011 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Poor ROI for K-12 spending in Michigan and the US,” Dec. 22, 2010


New Charter High School Planned in Ypsilanti


YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP —  Two affiliated charter public school operators plan to open "Arbor Prep" high school in Ypsilanti Township by fall, as well as a K-8 school, according to AnnArbor.com.

National Heritage Academies, which already operates two elementary schools in Ypsilanti, and PrepNet, which operates two Grant Rapids-area charter high schools, would operate the schools, according to AnnArbor.com. It is not clear yet which public body would authorize the schools, the report said.

Dave Angerer, executive principal of PrepNet, told AnnArbor.com that the company's research shows there is demand in the Ypsilanti area for a high school similar to those near Grand Rapids.

Superintendents in three nearby conventional public school districts told AnnArbor.com that they feel confident in their districts' ability to compete with a new high school.

Lincoln Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lynn Cleary pointed to the International Baccalaureate program and a special program for at-risk students as two draws, AnnArbor.com reported.

Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin noted that the district is redesigning Ypsilanti High School and also has established New Tech High School, which follows a national model of project-based learning, AnnArbor.com reported.

SOURCES:
AnnArbor.com, "National Heritage Academies, affiliate plan charter high school, K-8 school in Ypsilanti Township," Jan. 21, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Parents pin hopes on charter school lottery," March 30, 2010


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

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at med@educationreport.org

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