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98 Lowest Achieving Schools Identified; and Latest "Top-to-Bottom" School Rankings Released

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

August 26, 2011

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Education announced today that 98 schools have been identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) Schools. Schools placed on the PLA list are required to develop and implement Redesign Plans approved by the State School Reform Office in the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

Also released today was the "Top-to-Bottom" (highest to lowest) ranking of all schools using MDE's comprehensive methodology, developed in collaboration with education stakeholders. The Top to Bottom list ranks all schools in the state, based on student proficiency, achievement, academic growth and achievement gap in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies; and also graduation rate for high school buildings.

"This is important information for schools, parents, and communities to review," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "It provides a real look at how our local schools are doing in educating their students.

"Some schools are doing well at preparing students. Too many others still are struggling. But we all can improve," Flanagan added. "In order for Michigan to succeed in this competitive global economy, our schools need to step up their efforts - some, in a big way. I encourage communities to have honest discussions with their school leaders to embrace and support the changes needed to move forward."

As required by state law, the 98 schools on the PLA list were identified using the federally-prescribed and approved formula used for the federal School Improvement Grant. That formula considers student proficiency levels and academic improvement rates in math and reading only; whether a school is in one of the three federal school sanctions levels (corrective action, restructuring, or improvement); and whether a secondary school had a graduation rate below 60 percent.

Once identified on a PLA list in any year, a school is required to develop and implement an approved redesign plan, regardless of whether it appears on a subsequent year's PLA list. The school remains under the supervision of the School Reform Officer until the School Reform Officer determines it has made significant improvement in pupil achievement and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction releases it from the measures that have been imposed under state law.

Under state law, schools located in a district with an Emergency Manager do not fall under the authority of the State School Reform Office.

The four federally-required school improvement models from which the schools must select, are:

Transformational Model - Districts would address four specific areas: 1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness, which includes replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model; 2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies; 3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools; and 4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support.

Turnaround Model - This would include among other actions, replacing the principal and at least 50 percent of the school's staff, adopting a new governance structure and implementing a new or revised instructional program.

Restart Model - School districts would close the school and reopen it under the management of a charter school operator; a charter management organization; or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend.

School Closure - The district would close a failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in other high-achieving schools in the district.

For more detail, including the 2011 Top-to-Bottom ranking for all school buildings in Michigan and Frequently Asked Questions; visit the Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) Schools and Top-to-Bottom webpages.

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