Nearly 100 Focus Schools Exit List

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Bill DiSessa, Spokesperson, (5
Agency: Education

March 9, 2016

LANSING – Nearly 100 Michigan Focus Schools are exiting that school accountability designation after showing above average achievement or improvement with their lowest performing students, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

“These schools have made big strides in raising the academic achievement and improvement of their most struggling students,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “To have this many schools removing themselves from Focus Schools’ designations represents fantastic progress, and I commend the teachers, students, principals, and parents for their hard work and improvement.”

Focus Schools are those schools on the MDE’s Top-to-Bottom list with the largest achievement gaps between its top 30 percent of students and its bottom 30 percent, based on average scale score on state assessments.

In addition to being required by the U.S. Department of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility, identifying Focus Schools is a critical step toward Michigan achieving its goal of closing the achievement gap statewide.

Winter 2016 Focuse School Exit Tables

Of the 96 Focus Schools coming off the list, 54 are Title I schools receiving federal funding for high percentages of children from low-income families. Nineteen of these schools have been on the list since 2012 (cohort); and 77 since 2013.

The MDE noted several best practices used by the schools, including:

• Investments in teacher training for reading
• The purchase of new materials for core instruction in math
• A focus on building-level student assessment data
• Educators taking ownership of the local achievement gap

Retained as Focus Schools are 213 schools from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 cohorts; however, that total includes the 2014 cohort’s 104 schools, which currently are ineligible for release until they are in a cohort for at least two years. Four of the Focus Schools in those cohorts have closed, including one charter school and three traditional schools.

Decisions to release or retain the Focus Schools were based on evaluations against exit criteria in Michigan’s current ESEA federal flexibility waiver, approved last August by the U.S. Department of Education, and on achievement data from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

Specifically, Focus Schools are being released if, over two years, they either had above-average improvement or achievement in the bottom 30 percent of their students academically in math and English Language Arts, compared to statewide averages in the bottom 30-percent subgroups in those two subjects.

Data used in the evaluations included the 2013-14 MEAP/Michigan Merit Exam, MEAP-Access, and MI-Access, and the 2014-15 M-STEP and MI-Access. With the new M-STEP state assessment only having one year of data, MDE has suspended using a Top-to-Bottom rankings for accountability purposes, such as naming new Focus Schools. Existing Focus Schools still may come off previous Focus Schools’ lists, however.

The data and a Focus Schools Release/Retain Lookup Tool are available on the Focus Schools Website. For questions about the tool or data, please call 1-877-560-8378 or email

Attached is the "March 2016 Focus School Exits" list.

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