Greater Transparency on Student Achievement Highlights 2012 Statewide Report Cards

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Communications (517) 241-4395
Agency: Education

August 2, 2012                           
LANSING - Over 280 schools in Michigan have been designated as Reward Schools for either high student achievement or making tremendous progress in student achievement, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

Reward Schools is one of three new school designations that came as the result of Michigan receiving flexibility to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act from the U.S. Department of Education.

“We applaud the hard work and achievement of the educators and students in our Reward Schools because they are zeroed in on improving learning,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. “We need to instill that goal in so many more schools, in order to help all kids be career- and college-ready and successful in life.”

Reward Schools include the top five percent of schools on the annual Top-to-Bottom ranking of all Michigan schools, and the top five percent of schools making the greatest academic progress over the previous four years. The 286 Reward Schools are located in 178 different school districts across the state. Schools that will be identified later this fall as Beating the Odds schools also will be deemed Reward Schools.

The schools that need to improve their attention on student learning include the 146 Priority Schools (previously known as Persistently Lowest Achieving schools), and the 358 Focus Schools that have wide achievement gaps between the various student populations.

“We believe that teachers in the classrooms every day have important responsibilities and they work tirelessly to help students learn,” Flanagan said. “We will help the schools and teachers that need support to meet the unique needs of every student who depends on them.”

Priority Schools are those in the bottom five percent of the annual Top-to-Bottom ranking, and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years. As required under state law, Flanagan has placed Priority Schools under the authority of the State School Reform Office and the schools will be required to implement an intervention model to improve student achievement.

If any Priority School does not implement its intervention model and make substantial growth in student learning, it faces the opportunity of being placed in the statewide Education Achievement Authority (EAA) school system.

The 146 Priority Schools are located in 49 different school districts.

Under the recently-approved NCLB flexibility request, an achievement gap is calculated for all Michigan schools identifying the unique gap between the highest and lowest 30 percent of each school’s student achievement.

Focus Schools are the 10 percent of schools with the widest gaps. That list includes some otherwise high-achieving schools that normally would not be expected to have low achieving students. However, this new designation places a brighter focus on the struggling students in those schools.

“We are committed to closing the achievement gaps in all of our schools for all of our students,” Flanagan said. “With this measure of transparency, schools will be identified and held accountable for the achievement of all of their students.”

The 358 Focus Schools are located in 176 different school districts across Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Education will develop and provide a District Toolkit for districts that have Focus Schools. MDE will provide technical assistance to these districts on the use of the toolkits in the form of MDE-trained and paid-for District Improvement Facilitators.

With the assistance of these facilitators, districts will have one year to self-diagnose and self-prescribe customized changes in their supports to the Focus Schools and their students. There are escalating supports and consequences for Focus Schools that do not close their achievement gaps.

Additional transparency with school districts also is apparent in the district-wide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results. This year, the AYP calculated the district as an entire unit, instead of differentiating it by elementary, middle, and high school levels. The U.S. Department of Education also required that graduation rates for all students and all student population groups be included in the district AYP calculations.

As a result, 262 districts (48 percent) did not make AYP this year, as compared to 37 (6.7 percent) last year. At the school building level, 82 percent of schools made AYP, compared to 79 percent last year.

With the newly-awarded NCLB flexibility, this will be the last year the state will be determining AYP. Beginning next year, the state will be issuing an Accountability Scorecard that uses five different colors to recognize varying levels of achievement accountability for each school and district.

For individual school and district data, visit and click on Dashboard & School Report Card button located on the left.

Reward School information can be found at; Focus School information is available at; Priority School (formerly Persistently Lowest Achieving School) information is at; and Top to Bottom ranking information is at

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