July 2, 2013

Contents of this issue:

  • NAEP: High schoolers stagnant, younger students improving
  • Michigan public charter schools outperform conventional schools
  • Union calls pressures Pontiac to pay health insurance bill
  • Carnsonville-Port Sanilac students can take more online classes
  • Brighton borrows $12 million to make payroll
  • Mackinac Center releases new school report card

NAEP: High Schoolers Stagnant, Younger Students Improving

WASHINGTON, D.C. – High school student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have not improved in four decades, according to The Detroit News.

However, The News reports, younger students, and black and Hispanic students had the largest growth on the NAEP math and reading tests. Some officials suggest that the stagnant high school scores could be due to fewer students dropping out, according to The News.
The News reports that the dropout rate for Hispanic students fell from 32 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2010.
SOURCE: The Detroit News, “Report: No gains in high school reading, math scores since the 70s," June 27, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Close Dysfunctional Schools," May 16, 2013

Michigan Public Charter Schools Outperform Conventional Schools

LANSING, Mich. – In a new report that combines state-level findings, the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that Michigan is one of 10 states where public charter schools outperform conventional schools, according to CBS Detroit.

CBS Detroit reports that Michigan charter school students gain the equivalent of an additional 43 days of learning in reading, compared to their peers in conventional schools.
More than 30 new public charter schools will open in Michigan, according to CBS Detroit.
SOURCE: CBS Detroit, “Study Gives Michigan Charter Schools Good Marks,” June 29, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Charter Schools a Smashing Success,” Jan. 15, 2013

Union Calls Pressures Pontiac to Pay Health Insurance Bill

PONTIAC, Mich. – After a judge ruled that residents in the Pontiac School District will pay additional taxes over the next 10 years to cover an unpaid health insurance bill, the district’s teacher union has moved to pressure the district to pay the bill earlier, according to The Oakland Press.

The $7.8 million is owed to the Michigan Education Special Services Association, The Press reports. (MESSA is a third-party administrator  affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.)
Aimee McKeever, president of the Pontiac Education Association, has encouraged PEA members to pressure the school board to pay the debt, according to The Press.
SOURCE: The Oakland Press, “Pontiac Schools health benefits ending over unpaid premiums,” June 26, 2013
FURTHER READING: Michigan Capitol Confidential, “In Pontiac, MEA Local Raises $12K For School Supplies While Union Health Insurance Arm Sues District for $7.8 Million,” March 11, 2013

Carnsonville-Port Sanilac Students Can Take More Online Classes

CARSONVILLE, Mich. – The Carsonville-Port Sanilac school district has been approved for seat-time waivers for students at its Academy of Alternative Learning, according to the (Port Huron) Times Herald.

The Times Herald reports that previously, students had to physically attend class 80 percent of the time. With the seat-time waivers, according to the Times Herald, students can take more classes online.
C-PS Superintendent Harold Titus told the Times Herald that the online program will help more students who have to balance work and childcare complete coursework.
The online courses will be open to students in the district, as well as those who are in a district contiguous to Sanilac County, according to the Times-Herald.
SOURCE: The (Port Huron) Times Herald, “Carsonville-Port Sanilac kids allowed to skip school,” June 28, 2013
FURTHER READING: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Let Online Learning Flourish,” Aug. 16, 2013

Brighton Borrows $12 Million to Make Payroll

BRIGHTON, Mich. – Brighton Area Schools has borrowed $12 million from the state of Michigan so that the district can make summer payroll, according to WHMI 93.5 FM. Superintendent Greg Gray told WHMI that the interest and closing costs associated with the loan will cost district taxpayers an additional $300,000.

The Brighton Patch reports that district has one of the largest deficits in the state. According to the Brighton Patch, Brighton is projected to overspend its revenues by $8.6 million — nearly 15 percent of the district’s total revenues.
The Brighton Patch reports that Brighton has the 11th largest deficit in the state among 805 school districts and public charter schools.
WHMI 93.5 FM, “BAS Hopes State Loan Will Eventually be Unnecessary” June 27, 2013
Brighton Patch, “Brighton Schools Ranks in Top 15 for Running Biggest Deficit,” June 24, 2013 
FURTHER READING: Michigan Education Digest, "Brighton tries to solve overspending crisis, Aug. 19, 2008

Mackinac Center Releases New School Report Card

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has released a report card that ranks 2,362 elementary and middle schools across the state. The Context and Performance report card takes student poverty level into account in order to better examine school performance.

Four years’ worth of MEAP test scores in all subjects for grades 3 through 8 were adjusted based on the percentage of students in an elementary or middle school who qualified for a free lunch. A school’s “CAP Score” indicates how far above or below an elementary or middle school performed given its student population’s socioeconomic status.
The Dearborn school district did especially well overall: Nineteen (68 percent) of Dearborn’s elementary schools received As or Bs.
The full report card and a searchable online database is available here: www.mackinac.org/CAP2013