Schools receive automatic ‘A’ for reporting

LANSING, Mich. — Public schools in Michigan were offered an automatic "A" on part of their annual state report card this year, a one-time arrangement that may have spared some from being unaccredited, according to a report in Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Schools were guaranteed an "A" if they filled out a 40-page report on "Indicators of School Performance," intended to measure school improvement. The report counted as one-third of their overall Education Yes! report card grade, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Muskegon Heights High School, for example, received failing grades in the areas of reading, math, science and social studies, but received a "D" from the state overall because it completed the performance report, Capitol Confidential reported. It was unclear how many other low-performing schools received a similar boost.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, who serves on the House Education Committee, called the practice "indefensible," Capitol Confidential reported.

Joseph Martineau, director of the Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability for the Michigan Department of Education, said the automatic "A" was an arrangement for only one year. Next year the lowest 5 percent of schools will be considered unaccredited, and the next 15 percent will be put on interim accreditation, he told Capitol Confidential.

Martineau told Capitol Confidential that granting an automatic "A" allows a school to be "completely frank about myself."

Department of Education spokeswoman Jan Ellis told Capitol Confidential that the process of filling out the report "is a whole school improvement effort. ... It's a pretty complicated and time-consuming report."

Muskegon Heights High School Assistant Principal Keith Guy didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "State Gives Failing Schools Perfect Grades for Paperwork," Aug. 27, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "The shell game of 'making AYP,'" March 18, 2009