MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST 
Volume IV, No. 44
Nov. 5, 2002
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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Contents of this issue:
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* State may lower standards to keep schools off "failing" list
* Engler presents Golden Apple, Governor's Cup Awards to schools
* STUDY: Privately managed charters improving student test scores
* Union's may be "losing their grip" on education policy
* STUDY: Spending doesn't necessarily help achievement
* Parents get chance to experience MEAP test
* OPINION: Mich. lottery money a small percent of school funds
* STUDY: Computers don't improve student performance

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STATE MAY LOWER STANDARDS TO KEEP SCHOOLS OFF "FAILING" LIST
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LANSING, Mich. - State Board of Education members are debating 
whether or not to lower Michigan's education standards, in order 
to keep Michigan schools off federal "failing schools" lists.

New federal regulations, part of President Bush's No Child Left 
Behind Act, require states to set improvement standards for 
schools and sanctions for underperforming schools. The program 
developed by Michigan will affect how the state uses federal 
funds for education.

The State Board is torn between wanting to maintain existing 
standards and not wanting the sanctions generated by schools 
listed as "failing." Under current standards Michigan has the 
most "failing" schools in the nation: 1,513.

"By lowering standards, we increase the flow of federal money 
into Michigan and protect a significant number of schools," David 
Plank, a Michigan State University professor who studies K-12 
issues told the Lansing State Journal. "On the negative side, we 
want our kids to achieve higher levels. To scale that back in 
exchange for money is not a legitimate bargain."
_______
SOURCES:
Lansing State Journal, "Schools may lower standards to stay off 
federal watch list," Oct. 24, 2002 
http://www.lsj.com/news/schools/021024_ed_1a-5a.html

New York Times, "States Get Federal Warning on School Standards," 
Oct. 23, 2002 
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/24/education/24EDUC.html

U.S. Department of Education, "Letter Released from U.S. 
Education Secretary Paige to State School Chiefs on Implementing 
No Child Left Behind Act," Oct. 23, 2002 
http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/10-2002/10232002a.html


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ENGLER PRESENTS GOLDEN APPLE, GOVERNOR'S CUP AWARDS TO SCHOOLS
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LANSING, Mich. - Gov. John Engler presented Golden Apple and 
Governor's Cup awards to high-achieving Michigan schools 
Wednesday.

The Golden Apple awards, which come with a $10,000 prize, went to 
four elementary schools that had the highest scores on Michigan 
Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests and 125 schools whose 
scores had significantly improved. Scores on the fourth- and 
fifth-grade math, science, reading and writing tests were 
counted.

Four Governor's Cups were given to the high schools with the most 
Merit Award scholarship winners in each of the state's athletic 
divisions. The state's $2,500 Merit Award scholarships are given 
to students who score well on the high school MEAP test. 
________
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Engler delivers Golden Apples,"
Oct. 31, 2002 
http://www.freep.com/news/education/wapple31_20021031.htm


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STUDY: PRIVATELY MANAGED CHARTERS IMPROVING STUDENT TEST SCORES
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HILLSDALE, Mich. - Students who attend charter schools managed by 
National Heritage Academies (NHA) for more than two years 
outperform their public school counterparts in most subjects on 
Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests, according 
to a new study conducted by Hillsdale College.

Author Dr. Gary Wolfram reports, "students who have spent two 
years or more at NHA schools will have a higher probability of 
scoring in the upper categories of the Michigan Educational 
Assessment Program and a lower probability of scoring in the 
bottom category."

"This study also demonstrates a measure of accountability that 
should challenge all public schools," Wolfram offers. "National 
Heritage Academies is providing a 'value-added' education for its 
students. Michigan residents can be assured that they are getting 
an exceptional return on their investment for the tax dollars 
spent to educate students at National Heritage Academies." 
_______ 
SOURCE:
Hillsdale College, "Making the (Better) Grade: A Detailed 
Statistical Analysis of the Effect of National Heritage Academies 
on Student MEAP Scores," Oct. 2002 
http://www.heritageacademies.com/nha/assets/hillsdale.pdf


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UNIONS MAY BE "LOSING THEIR GRIP" ON EDUCATION POLICY
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A recent Education Week profile says the 
nation's teacher unions, though still the most powerful lobbyists 
when it comes to education policy, may be losing their grip, as 
signified by the success of school choice, which they oppose. 

With a combined membership near 4 million, Education Week points 
out, the National Education Association and the American 
Federation of Teachers still have the resources and wherewithal 
to significantly affect national and state education policy.

But some critics say union influence is waning.

"They are the most powerful player in the politics of education- 
period," Terry M. Moe, a political science professor at Stanford 
University, told Education Week. "Today, they are still the 800- 
pound gorillas, but they're under siege in a way they weren't in 
the '80s. I think they're in the process of losing their grip 
and are going in decline, but this is going to be a long, slow 
process."
_______ 
SOURCE:
Education Week, "Unions Labor to Shape Education Policy,"
Oct. 30, 2002 
http://www.edweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=09unions.h22


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STUDY: SPENDING DOESN'T NECESSARILY HELP ACHIEVEMENT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Greater education spending does not 
necessarily lead to improved student performance, according to a 
recently released study from the American Legislative Exchange 
Council (ALEC).

ALEC's Report Card on American Education offers a state-by-state 
picture of school performance and spending. 

Despite dramatic increases in many states' spending on education, 
students in those same states show little progress on achievement 
tests.

According to the report, Michigan spends more than the national 
average per pupil, yet ranks 29th in student performance on 
national achievement tests. 
_______ 
SOURCE:
American Legislative Exchange Council, "Report Card on American 
Education: A State-by-State Analysis, 1976-2001," Oct. 1, 2002
http://www.alec.org/meSWFiles/pdf/Education_Report_card.pdf


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PARENTS GET CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE MEAP TEST
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LANSING, Mich. - In November, many school districts will invite 
members of the community to take an abridged version of the high 
school Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test.

A handful of Michigan education groups and state departments are 
sponsoring the effort to educate adults about the standards 
expected of students today.

"They'll be very surprised," T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the 
Michigan Department of Education, told the Detroit Free Press. 

"We contend that Michigan's test is probably one of the toughest 
in the nation."

The MEAP is an important tool used in Michigan to gauge how well 
schools prepare students to meet the state standards. The test 
also determines which students and schools will receive state 
scholarships and awards.
_______ 
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "How hard is MEAP test? Adults invited to 
find out," Oct. 31, 2002 
http://www.freep.com/news/education/ntest31_20021031.htm


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OPINION: MICH. LOTTERY MONEY A SMALL PERCENT OF SCHOOL FUNDS
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DETROIT, Mich. - A recent Detroit Free Press article by Columnist 
Chris Christoff seeks to debunk the idea that Michigan lottery 
money makes up the majority of state school funding and that that 
money isn't being properly directed to schools.

"The answer is all of the money goes to schools and has for the 
past 20 years," Christoff writes.

He points out that although the lottery since 1972 has given more 
than $10.5 billion to the state School Aid Fund, that 30-year 
amount is less than Michigan will spend on K-12 schools this year 
alone. That price tag is approximately $13 billion.

Overall, the lottery money amounts to only about 5 percent of the 
total spent on schools, Christoff said.
_______ 
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Stubborn lottery myth has a strong hold on 
voters," Oct. 21, 2002 
http://www.freep.com/news/politics/polcol21_20021021.htm


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STUDY: COMPUTERS DON'T IMPROVE STUDENT PERFORMANCE
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LONDON, ENGLAND - The use of computers in schools does not 
improve pupils' educational performance - in fact, it may have a 
damaging impact on their math education, according to a study 
published recently in Economic Journal. 

Evaluating a controlled experiment of computer use in Israeli 
schools in the mid 1990s, economists Joshua Angrist of the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Victor Lavy of the 
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found there is no evidence that 
computer-aided instruction improves pupil performance.

In fact, their research showed that mathematics scores of pupils 
in schools that received new computers actually went down.

They suggest that either computer-aided instruction is no better 
or less effective than other teaching methods or alternately, 
computers may have consumed school resources or displaced 
educational activities which, had they been maintained, would 
have prevented a decline in achievement.
_______ 

SOURCE:
Guardian, "Computers don't improve pupils' performance,"
Oct. 25, 2002 
http://education.guardian.co.uk/elearning/story/0,10577,818770,00.html


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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 Elizabeth H. Moser at 
[mailto:med@educationreport.org]

To subscribe, go to:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/#subscribe.
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