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MDE Releases the 2016 School Score Cards; Top to Bottom List; And Reward Schools

January 20, 2017

LANSING - Local schools across Michigan have a better understanding of their student data today with the release of the state's score cards by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

Today's release marks the last time that the color-coded score cards and Top To Bottom list will be used, as MDE continues to develop a proposed new accountability system in compliance with the new federal law - Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

"With the continued improvements to our state assessment system, we promised to still be transparent and hold schools accountable for student achievement," said State Superintendent Brian Whiston.

"These score cards are a good diagnostic tool for local schools to drive improvement and instruction," Whiston said. "Schools will be able to look at their data and see which groups of students need more attention and individualized instruction. A major part of accountability is transparency and the communication of information to schools, parents, and their communities."

Recognizing the steady improvement in systems, and in agreement with the state's flexibility waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, MDE is not dispensing consequences to schools that are struggling to raise achievement. It is, however, recognizing Reward Schools, which are high-achieving, high improving, or Beating the Odds.

There are 219 schools that met the Reward Schools criteria for 2015-16. Schools identified as Reward Schools are those that did not receive a red scorecard and have achieved on or more of the following distinctions:

  • Top 5 percent of schools on the Top to Bottom list
  • Top 5 percent of schools making the greatest gains in achievement (improvement)
  • Beating the Odds by outperforming the school's predicted ranking and/or similar schools

This year, MDE is not labeling schools with Priority School or Focus School labels, as it had done in previous years.

There are 89 of schools that have earned their way off Focus School status this year, as a result of having above average improvement or achievement by the lowest-performing 30 percent of their students in math and English language arts, compared to statewide averages in the lowest-performing 30 percent group of students in those two subjects over two years.

"These schools have shown tremendous results in raising the academic achievement and improvement of their most struggling students," Whiston said. "To have this many schools removing themselves from Focus Schools' designations, on the heels of 96 schools existing last year's list, shows sustained progress statewide. I commend the teachers, students, principals, and parents for their hard work and improvement."

Of the 89 Focus Schools coming off the list, 51 are Title I schools receiving federal funding for high percentages of children from low-income families. Furthermore, four, 19 and 66 of these schools have been on the list since the 2012, 2013 and 2014 cohorts, respectively.


Title I

Non-Title I

All Schools

Winter 2017 Focus School Exits


















Retained as Focus Schools are 124 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.

The MDE supports Title I Focus Schools by supplying them with a District Improvement Facilitator under the MI Excel program. The facilitator is supplied by a local district's Intermediate School District (ISD), funded through MDE Regional Assistance Grants.

Improvements to Title I Focus Schools typically include district resource allocation, problem-solving, student support networks and talent management. Additionally, MI Excel supports the alignment of reading and math instruction with state curriculum standards.

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

  • Equitable allocation of district resources based on student needs
  • An instructional structure that includes a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS)
  • A focus on building-level student assessment data
  • A district-wide culture of shared ownership for the well-being and achievement of all students

The state's School Reform Office, housed in the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, will be following state law and determining which of the schools in the state's Bottom 5 percent will undergo state intervention. MDE has shared the applicable data with the School Reform Office, which will make its own accountability decisions from there.