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Discussions Begin with Seven New Districts To Build Partnership Agreements

October 30, 2017

LANSING –State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will be entering into discussions with seven new school districts to develop Partnership Agreements with the goal of improving achievement levels at these struggling schools in Michigan.

“These will be positive, yet pressing, conversations with the leaders of these districts to get their struggling schools back on track,” Whiston said. “We want to provide as many local and state-level partners as possible to help students in these schools be successful.”

These seven districts were identified for Partnership District discussions based on having previously-identified Priority Schools that continue to lag in their percent proficient scores in math and English language arts on the Spring M-STEP test; and the district’s percent proficient in math and English language arts declined at the district level.

Whiston will be arranging initial meetings with the following school districts: Battle Creek Public Schools; Lansing Public Schools; Wayne-Westland Community Schools; and American International Academy; David Ellis Academy-Elementary; Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies-Elementary; and Mildred C. Wells Preparatory Academy.

Whiston said this is meant only as a positive opportunity to work together under the leadership of the local superintendent and the local board of education to improve student achievement and outcomes, with an explicit and detailed understanding between all partners.

Currently, there are nine Partnership Districts in Michigan. Four of those districts will have additional schools added to their Partnership Agreements, based on the same criteria as the schools in the seven new districts. Benton Harbor Area Schools, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Pontiac City School District, and Saginaw City School District will be adding a total of 27 schools to their current Partnership Agreements.

These districts also are being given the opportunity to include “Optional” schools to their Partnership Agreements. Optional schools are those previously-identified Priority Schools that are trending to be “Required” in the next round of accountability next spring, that MDE is giving their districts the opportunity to start addressing their needs earlier.

With the expectation that Michigan’s plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will be approved yet this fall, MDE will be identifying more Partnership Districts next spring for Comprehensive Support and Improvement. MDE also will be identifying a number of Early Warning Districts in the spring, using the state’s ESSA plan.

Exiting Priority School Status

As a result of improving academic achievement, MDE has removed 32 schools from the list of identified Priority Schools from previous years. Through the diligent work of the educators and students in those schools, test scores have improved and will be expected to continue on their positive trends.

“It’s encouraging to see schools identifying the needs of their teachers and students, developing strategies to address those needs, and showing progress,” Whiston said. “There still is work to do and I commend their commitment and tenacity to keep improving.”

Next Steps

Under a Partnership Agreement, the local district remains in total control of its schools with support from MDE and partners, Whiston said. Each agreement includes 18- and 36-month accountability timelines when they will be evaluated on the progress toward their goals.

“This has been a remarkable experience with the current Partnership Districts, and helping them start implementing their improvement strategies,” Whiston said. “We look forward to working with the seven new districts to help them build their Partnership Agreements.”

MDE will be providing resources for the districts to utilize in identifying their needs and a plan to improve. These include: needs assessment tools, evidence-based practices, draft Partnership Agreement, lists of potential partners and contact information.

Under a Partnership Agreement, the local district remains in total control of its schools with support from MDE and partners. The districts have 90 days to reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the next level of accountability would be implemented.

With multiple partners – including local board members, the intermediate school district, education organizations, business, community members, parents, higher education organizations, foundations – committing to be actively engaged, work will ensue to identify a plan of supports and interventions that will improve student outcomes.

Academic outcomes are a primary focus, and other whole child outcomes that can impede improved academics like health, nutrition, behavior, social/emotional issues also will be addressed.

The Michigan Department of Education works intensely with the Partnership District, with each district having been assigned a liaison from MDE. This person is responsible for supporting the district in implementation of its agreement; helping resolve problems and breaking down barriers; facilitating discussions and meetings; and ensuring that the Partnership District receives maximum support for success from MDE, as well as from the partners and other state agencies.

This Partnership Model puts a broad spectrum of technical expertise and resources in the hands of the school district, and allows local districts to use community and state-level support systems to drive improvement and self-accountability. The ultimate benefit would be to regenerate a struggling school to be one that helps students and teachers achieve at higher levels.

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New Partnership Districts

American International Academy-Elementary

Battle Creek Public Schools

            Ann J. Kellogg School

            Northwestern Middle School

            Verona Elementary (Optional)

David Ellis Academy

Henry Ford Academy: School of Creative Studies-Elementary

Lansing Public Schools

            Attwood School

            J.W. Sexton High School

            Gardner Academy (Optional)

            North School (Optional)

            Woodcreek Achievement Center (Optional)

Mildred C. Wells Preparatory Academy

Wayne-Westland Community School District

            Hoover Elementary School

Current Partnership Districts Adding Schools

Benton Harbor Area Schools

            Benton Harbor High School

            Arts & Communications Academy at Fair Plain (Optional)

Detroit Public School Community District

Blackwell Institute

Brewer Elementary-Middle School

Carstens Elementary-Middle School

Central High School

Cody Academy of Public Leadership

Detroit International Academy for Young Women

Dixon Elementary

Dossin Elementary-Middle School

Earhart Elementary-Middle School

East English Village Prep Academy

Duke Ellington at Beckham

Emerson Elementary-Middle Schools

Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School

King High School

John R. King Academy and Performing Arts Academy

Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School

Mann Elementary

Marshall Elementary

Neinas Dual Language Learning Academy

Nobel Elementary-Middle School

Palmer Park Prep Academy

Pulaski Elementary-Middle School

Schulze Elementary-Middle School

Wayne Elementary

Academy of the Americas (Optional)

Bagley Elementary (Optional)

Brenda Scott Academy for Theatre Arts (Optional)

Carve Elementary-Middle School (Optional)

Edison Elementary (Optional)

Ludington Magnet Middle School (Optional)

Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody (Optional)

Nichols Elementary-Middle School (Optional)

Spain Elementary-Middle School (Optional)

Pontiac City School District

Owen Elementary

            Pontiac Middle School (Optional)

Saginaw City School District

            Jessie Rouse School

            Arthur Hill High School (Optional)

            Thompson Middle School (Optional)

Schools Exiting Priority School Status

Arenac Eastern School District

            Arenac Eastern High School

Battle Creek Montessori Academy

Battle Creek Public Schools

            Post Franklin School

Bay City School District

            MacGregor Elementary

Bear Lake Schools

            Bear Lake High School

Benzie County Central Schools

            Betsie Valley School

Carney-Nadeau Public Schools

            Carney-Nadeau School

Cesar Chavez Academy-Elementary     

Clintondale Community Schools

            Charles C. McGlinnen School

            Robbie Hall Parker School

Detroit Leadership Academy-Elementary

Detroit Public Schools Community District

            Cooke Elementary

            Western International High School

Francis Reh Public School Academy

Grand Rapids Public Schools

            Coit Arts Academy

            Dickenson School

Hale Area Schools

            Hale High School

Jackson Public Schools

            McCulloch School

Kalamazoo Public Schools

            Northeastern Elementary

            Northglade Montessori School

Lansing Public School District

            Cavanaugh School

            Willow School

Mount Clemens Community School District

            Seminole Academy

Muskegon, Public Schools of the City of

            Marquette Elementary

Oak Park, School District of the City of

            Key Elementary

            Pepper Elementary

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools

            Starkweather Academy at Fiegel

Port Huron Area School District

            Woodrow Wilson Elementary

The James and Grace Lee Boggs School

Washington-Parks Academy

            Lincoln-King Academy

Wayne-Westland Community School District

            Alexander Hamilton Elementary

            David Hicks School