April 8, 2014

Contents of this issue:

  • Otsego changes practices, sees tremendous MEAP growth
  • CMU refuses to reauthorize low-performing charter school
  • Ed-Trust: Michigan is falling behind other states
  • Union contracts use race to guide hiring and promotion 
  • Muskegon Heights employees go without paycheck

Otsego Changes Practices, Sees Tremendous MEAP Growth

OTSEGO, Mich. – After changing instructional practices, the Otsego school district saw student test scores improve dramatically, according to MLive.

MLive reports that Otsego saw improvement in MEAP scores across all seven grades that are tested and all subjects, with the exception of seventh-grade reading.
More than 70 percent of Otsego third graders this year scored proficient on the MEAP mathematics test, compared to just 43 percent of third graders last year, MLive reports. Similarly, 75 percent of Otsego fourth graders scored proficient on the test this year, compared to just 38 percent the year before, according to MLive.
MLive reports that the statewide average improvement on the MEAP mathematics test was a single percentage point.
Otsego administrators told MLive that the improvement was accomplished by closely reviewing 2012 MEAP test scores and identifying concepts that a large number of Otsego students failed to grasp. That information, the administrators told MLive, was passed on to teachers.
The district also gave students a test similar to the MEAP during the first week of the school year, and used the results to target instruction to areas the students needed to improve upon, according to MLive.
“Assessments aren’t perfect,” Heather Kortlandt, Otsego director of secondary instruction told MLive. “…But it does give us lots of specific information, and if we use that information, we can improve student achievement.”

SOURCE: MLive, “How did Otsego achieve unprecedented improvements on MEAP math tests?” April 3, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Per-Pupil Spending Little To Do With Performance,” Aug. 14, 2012 

CMU Refuses to Reauthorize Low-Performing Charter School

ORLEANS, Mich. – Central Michigan University will not be reauthorizing Threshold Academy for the 2014-15 school year, according to the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.

According to the Sentinel-Standard, the refusal to reauthorize is due to the school’s performance. The Sentinel-Standard reports that in 2010, CMU stated that it would not reauthorize Threshold Academy unless the percentage of students posting satisfactory scores on the MEAP increased within four years.
The charter public school is looking for another authorizer, the Sentinel-Standard reports, but is unlikely to find one quickly enough to open in the fall of 2014.

SOURCE: Ionia Sentinel-Standard, “Threshold Academy to close its doors June 30,” April 4, 2014

FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Needs to Choose School Choice," Nov. 23, 2013

Ed-Trust: Michigan is Falling Behind Other States

LANSING, Mich. – The Education Trust-Midwest released a report showing that Michigan public school students are falling behind when compared to students in other states, according to MLive.

The study recommends providing training for teachers on Michigan content standards, as well as making changes to how teachers are evaluated, MLive reports.
Education Trust-Midwest also recommends holding schools accountable if they fail to improve student outcomes, according to MLive. The organization suggests restricting the opening of new charter schools, MLive reports.

SOURCE: MLive, “How does Michigan get a world-class education system? Charter schools aren’t panacea, report says,” April 3, 2014 

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “How Not to Measure Charter School Quality," Sept. 13, 2012 

Union Contracts Use Race to Guide Hiring and Promotion

LANSING, Mich. – At least five public school districts have collective bargaining agreements that state that race will be a factor in hiring and promotion decisions, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. The Mackinac Center, which publishes Michigan Capitol Confidential, also publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Capitol Confidential reports that public institutions are prohibited from using race to determine hiring decisions by the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a law passed in 2006.
Oak Park has language in its agreement that states the district will strive to increase the number of racial minority teachers, according to Capitol Confidential.
Ann Arbor has language stating that at least two African-American classroom teachers will be assigned to each school building, Michigan Capitol Confidential reports. 
Kalamazoo’s contract states that the district will “hire minorities whenever possible,” according to Capitol Confidential.
“To be that blatant is stunning,” Jen Gratz, who sued the University of Michigan for its affirmative action policy, told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “It tells you who they are looking out for. It’s not the kids. It’s not the constitution.”

SOURCE: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “School Union Contracts Across The State Retain Clauses Calling For Hiring Based On Race,” April 4, 2014 
Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Non-Christians Given ‘Special Consideration’ In Union Teacher Contract, March 19, 2014 

Muskegon Heights Employees Go Without Paycheck

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Muskegon Heights school district employees did not receive a paycheck on March 31, according to MLive.

MLive reports that the charter school district is facing financial difficulties. The district spent $530,000 more than it received during its first year in 2012-13.
Enrollment at the district has declined by 253 students, according to MLive, a fall of more than 20 percent.
SOURCE: MLive, “Emergency manager: Muskegon Heights schools staff paychecks ‘delayed,’” April 1, 2014 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, “Muskegon Heights mismanagement required district charterization,” June 11, 2014