Assessment plan gets mixed reviews

DETROIT - Opinion is mixed on proposed changes in the way Michigan evaluates its public schools, according to the Detroit Free Press, with some saying that the new system would rely too heavily on test scores but others saying it would make it easier to close failing schools.

The new system would rest mainly on how well students do on Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests in elementary and middle school, the Michigan Merit Examination in high school and separate tests for special education students, the Free Press reported.

Schools also would have to meet eight standard non-test requirements, such as having certified teachers, the Free Press reported. Currently schools are allowed to rate themselves on a list of 40 school performance "indicators." Schools would no longer receive a letter grade from the state, but a determination that they are accredited, unaccredited or in "interim" status, according to the report.

MaryAlice Galloway, of the Michigan Department of Education, told the Free Press that the system will provide parents with more information and also make it easier for the state to intervene in failing schools, but that more schools are likely to be unaccredited under the new system.

Gayle Green, chief academic officer for the Macomb Intermediate School District, told the Free Press that test scores do not give a broad enough picture of a school. Other school officials said that is particularly true in high school, when students are only tested during their junior year. Some want the education department to introduce a freshman test as well, according to the Free Press.

The Detroit Free Press, "Michigan ponders changes to school-review system," March 1, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," May 12, 2000