Contents of this issue:
- State budget deal reforms teacher health insurance
- Students show slight improvement in NAEP scores
- Schools offer certificate to show workplace readiness
- Districts Offer Incentives to Increase Attendance for Count Day
- Plymouth-Canton teachers to receive new insurance, raises
- Comment and win an iPod
STATE BUDGET DEAL REFORMS TEACHER HEALTH INSURANCE
LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to lower the burden of health
insurance costs for public school districts was among the many
measures passed last weekend as lawmakers addressed the
overspending in Michigan's budget, according to Booth
The legislation allows districts to now pool employees' health
costs and also mandates that employers competitively bid for
insurance coverage. This aspect of the bill faced the most
opposition because it requires the Michigan Education Special
Services Association, a third-party health administrator
affiliated with the Michigan Education Association school
employees union, to release claims data. Supporters say this
could save millions of dollars each year, Booth Newspapers
reported. Claims data will be aggregate so as to protect the
identity of individual employees.
The Legislature also reformed the state's school employee
retirement system. The new program will model that used for
other state employees. Retired school employees will now have a
percentage of their health care costs paid by the state each
month. The percentage will be on a scale system and tied to how
many years the employee worked, according to Booth Newspapers.
Booth Newspapers, "Deal includes changes aimed at saving school
health costs," Oct. 1, 2007
Michigan Education Report, "School Districts Report Saving Money
in Insurance Pool," Feb. 23, 2007
STUDENTS SHOW SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT IN NAEP SCORES
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results of the last National Assessment of
Educational Progress test show slight improvements in math and
elementary reading, while progress in correcting racial
achievement gaps has worsened or stalled, according to the
Detroit Free Press.
More than 702,000 students participated in the assessment of 4th
and 8th graders' competence in reading and mathematics. Math
scores for both elementary and middle school students increased,
but not as significantly as in previous years. The percentage of
fourth-grade students who scored proficient or better in math
has tripled; while the proportion of eighth-grade students
meeting or surpassing proficiency has doubled since 1990. Eighth
grade scores in reading have only improved one point since 2005
and three points from 1992, the Free Press reported.
In Michigan, fourth-grade students met the national average
reading score, and scored one point lower than the national
average in math. The state's eighth graders scored one point
lower than the national average in reading and three points
lower than the average in math, according to the Free Press.
"This report shows while Michigan student assessment scores are
fairly consistent with national trends, overall achievement is
far too low, especially among economically disadvantaged
students," Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of public
instruction, told the Free Press.
Detroit Free Press, "Michigan students on par with nation in
math and reading," Sept. 25, 2007
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan Rankings on National Education Test Fall in 8th Grade, Stagnate in 4th; Proficiency Scores Flat," Sept. 26, 2007
SCHOOLS OFFER CERTIFICATE TO SHOW WORKPLACE READINESS
LANSING, Mich. — Schools in Eaton, Clinton and Ingham counties
are beginning to grant graduating seniors a National Career
Readiness Certificate if they demonstrate competence in applied
mathematics, reading for information and locating information,
according to The Lansing State Journal.
The certificate is supposed to serve as another source of
information to potential employers regarding a student's skill
set. Depending on the level of performance, a student may
receive a gold, silver or bronze certificate. Certification is
based on scores from the applied mathematics and reading
sections of the Michigan Merit Exam, and through an additional
test on locating information, The State Journal reported.
Although the MME measures the first two components of
certification, a consortium of schools and businesses have
pushed for federal funding of the locating information portion.
Advocates of the certification program say this test will ensure
a well-trained workforce in Michigan, according to The State
The Lansing State Journal, "Kogut: Schools offer proof of work-force readiness," Sept. 28, 2007
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Undereducated Today,
Outsourced Tomorrow," Nov. 16, 2004
DISTRICTS OFFER INCENTIVES TO INCREASE ATTENDANCE FOR COUNT DAY
DETROIT — Many public school districts made efforts to provide
incentives for students to attended school on count day in hopes
of receiving as much funding from the state as possible,
according to The Detroit News.
State funding for schools is determined, in part, on a per-pupil
basis. This per-pupil funding is determined through a blended
enrollment count on the second Wednesday in February and the
fourth Wednesday after Labor Day of the following school year.
Schools take 25 percent of their enrollment in February and
combine it with 75 percent of the enrollment the next fall, The
School districts are anticipating a freeze in the foundation
allowance from the state this year and used creative incentives
to make sure students were present for the count. In Hazel Park,
for example, elementary schools aligned student picture day with
count day and middle school students were given a pizza party.
The district lost about 200 students last year and is
anticipating a loss of about another 100 students this year,
according to The News.
Students at Detroit Public Schools' Pasteur Elementary were
treated to a picnic at a church across the street from the
school and had a chance to play football and other games, The
News reported. DPS enrollment has dropped about 10,000 students
a year for the past several years and the district recently
closed 33 schools.
Although count day is important, schools do have a chance to
adjust their enrollment numbers to account for legitimate
absences, like illness.
"I'm not going to lie to you — it's a very important day,"
Michelle Irwin, director of community relations and programs for
the L'Anse Creuse schools, told The News. "But keep in mind,
count day isn't just (today). It's also the day before and the
30 days after."
The Detroit News, "Schools entice kids for funds," Sept. 26, 2007
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Pupil Counts," in "A
Michigan School Money Primer," May 31, 2007
PLYMOUTH-CANTON TEACHERS TO RECEIVE NEW INSURANCE, RAISES
PLYMOUTH, Mich. — The Plymouth-Canton Education Association
union has agreed to a two-year contract with the board of
education that includes pay raises and a switch in health
insurance, according to The Canton Eagle.
This year, teachers at the top of the pay scale will receive a
bonus of 1.5 percent, while all others will see a 0.25 percent
raise. Those at the top of the pay scale will receive an
additional 2 percent raise next year, The Eagle reported.
The PCEA also voted unanimously to change health coverage to a
Blue Cross/Blue Shield Community Blue PPO starting in January
2008. The district expects to save more than $400,000 through
the switch, according to The Eagle.
"It's a win for both sides," union representative Chuck Portelli
told The Eagle. "It's savings for them and good for our
members," he said.
The Canton Eagle, "District, teachers agree to pact,"
Sept. 27, 2007
Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek
solutions to costly health insurance," Dec. 15, 2005
COMMENT AND WIN AN IPOD
MIDLAND, Mich. — Go to https://educationreport.org
a comment for a chance to win one of three iPods.
MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education
a quarterly newspaper
published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research and educational institute.