State Raises Bar on MEAP, Wants Same for Accreditation

LANSING, Mich. — State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says he is not jumping the gun on a new school accreditation system without approval from the Michigan Legislature, as a group of school districts has charged, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Middle Cities Education Association has filed suit to prevent the Michigan Department of Education from implementing a plan that the association said would result in about 20 percent of schools in the state losing accreditation, according to the Free Press.

The state board of education approved the plan, but state law requires the department to get approval from the House and Senate education committees, the Free Press reported. The association said that guidelines on the changes have already been sent to schools, but Flanagan said no implementation has begun. He said he believes the committees will approve the plan, the Free Press reported.

The plan would change the system to one relying more heavily on standardized test scores and would no longer give schools credit for self-evaluation on a number of school-related factors, the Free Press reported. Complicating the issue, the state board of education last week agreed to raise “cut scores” on Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests, meaning students must earn higher scores to be considered proficient.

State officials said that Michigan needed to raise the bar in order to give the public a more realistic picture of school performance and to be sure students are ready for college and careers, the Free Press reported. School officials said the changes should be phased in over time rather than beginning in 2011-2012, as planned.

Detroit Free Press, "State schools to seek approval for new accreditation rules," Feb. 8, 2011

Detroit Free Press, "State raises bar on tests to prepare kids for college, careers," Feb. 9, 2011

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