Students Achieve Success in Education Achievement Authority Schools

By Mike Brownfield | February 26, 2013

 

Some of Michigan's most challenged schools received great news last week: More than one-quarter of students in the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) made one year of academic gains in the first four months of the school year.

 

The EAA, which was created in September 2012, is a new program designed to help turn around the lowest performing schools in the state and is currently in place at 15 schools in Detroit. The Detroit News reports on the details of the EAA's success -- and its significance.

 

John Covington, EAA chancellor, announced early results from assessments given to students in late January and early February showed 27 percent of EAA students in grades 2-9 achieved a year's growth or more in reading and 22 percent with the same growth range in math.

In the fall, all EAA students took a Performance Series test to give educators a baseline for future results and to let teachers place students in instructional groups based on academic skill.

The second round shows students are progressing and the EAA offers struggling students the opportunity to catch up to their peers around the state, Covington said. "This is huge. This shows the EAA model is working," he said.

That model is one that is based on a proven learning platform and locally-based management style. Governor Rick Snyder explains:

Principals are empowered to hire the best teachers; place, train and support them to provide continuous improvement based on student needs; and ensure that at least one third more taxpayer dollars is spent directly in the classroom. It eliminates “one-size-fits-all” education by instituting a system known as student-centered learning. Under that method, each student is individually tested to determine his or her achievement level in each subject. Educators then develop a unique education plan for each individual student, working with that student on an individual level.

No longer are students moved on just because they have spent nine months sitting in a chair. They move on when they master a particular subject. Students don't identify themselves in grades based on their age, either, but by their achievement level in various subjects.

The Detroit News reports that successes have been seen across grade levels:

The results show 18 percent of elementary age students, 35 percent of middle school students and 48 percent of high school students made one or more years of growth since October in reading.

In math, 7 percent of elementary, 26 percent of middle school and 40 percent of high school students made one or more years of growth.

Yvonne Lewis, an instructional coach at Henry Ford High School, one of six EAA high schools, said she is excited about the results. "We spent a lot of time building a test culture. Students (previously) didn't take testing or their education seriously," she said.

Earlier this month, about 25 state legislators visited EAA schools and met with teachers, students and administrators at Henry Ford High School and Nolan Elementary School. Legislation to confirm EAA in law is pending in the legislature.