As part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) was created as a way to measure educational standards within public schools. In Michigan, AYP measured year-to-year student achievement on the MEAP for elementary and middle schools and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) for high schools. Other indicators, such as participation, attendance rates, and graduation rates were also considered in this measure. Under the AYP system, the Michigan Department of Education issued school districts and individual schools “report cards,” assigning letter grades based on the established indicators. Rockford Public Schools has earned straight A’s for seven consecutive years through this method.
Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the Michigan Department of Education released Michigan School Scorecards as the indicator of school and district compliance, assessment participation, and assessment performance requirements. These scorecards will use a color coding system in place of the grading system used under AYP. Color designations in order of highest to lowest are: green, lime, yellow, orange, and red.
The first scorecards have just been released, indicating that each of the Rockford Public Schools has earned a passing color of either yellow or orange, with the overall district earning red. How can a district that previously earned straight A’s suddenly be measured as average or below average? The simple answer is that the MDE is using subgroup population statistics and this is adversely impacting the results of over 95 percent of school districts in Michigan. Without using subgroup populations the overall indicator for RPS would be at the highest level. The method being used is clearly flawed and does not accurately represent what is happening in Michigan’s schools. The scorecard indicator is certainly not indicative of student performance at Rockford Public Schools.
A recent article in the Detroit Free Press outlined the MDE’s criteria relative to the color coding system. Based on that report, Rockford Public Schools would receive the rating of lime green, with over 70 percent of the 120 areas of measurement attained. The MDE fails to mention in the article the other measures they have created that restrict districts from being accurately labeled. We are working to obtain clarification of all criteria.
In summary, the Rockford Public School District will continue to hold itself accountable to the highest standards. We support any method that accurately demonstrates accountability, and we will work with the MDE for clarification on criteria and ways to ensure that accountability is both demonstrated and reported accurately.
We will keep you informed on this topic as it develops. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact Michael S. Shibler, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools at 863-6557; Ryan Kelley, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of Instruction at 863-6556; or Doug VanderJagt, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and District Testing Coordinator, 863-6554.