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MDE and ISDs To Provide Support To Help Improve Low-Achieving Schools

LANSING – Fifty-four Michigan school districts, each with one or more low-achieving schools, have been identified for the need to enter into partnership agreements with the state to help improve academic outcomes for their students—in part a fallout from the pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) enters into partnership agreements with local districts that have schools scoring in the bottom five percent on the state’s index accountability system and/or have a four-year graduation rate of 67% or less.

Partnership districts will receive concentrated support from MDE and intermediate school districts (ISDs) to develop aligned measurable 18-month interim target benchmarks and 36-month end target outcomes to be achieved for each school operated by the district that is subject to the partnership agreement. Alternative education schools and virtual schools scoring in the bottom 5% and/or having a 4-year graduation rate of 67% or less are identified for, and will receive, supports outside of a partnership agreement.

“What we’re experiencing is the consequence of underfunding Michigan public school students, educators, and education for many years, the resultant teacher shortage, and a once-in-a-century pandemic,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Unfinished learning during the pandemic has resulted in generally lower, average student scores on the state’s M-STEP assessments, locally administered benchmark assessments, and national NAEP assessments.”

“That said, with the generational pre-K-12 funding negotiated between Governor Whitmer and the state legislature for this fiscal year and last, including $575 million to begin to address the teacher shortage, as well as additional funds for expansion of pre-school, detailed professional development for those teaching children to read, and the funding of increased staffing and the fleshing out of a comprehensive school mental health system in the state, there is optimism that we are turning the corner.”

MDE is required to run its federal school accountability system, the Michigan School Index, annually in fulfillment of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for all, which led the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to grant waivers to states to set aside (1) state summative assessments for the 2019-20 school year and (2) federally required school accountability determinations/release for 2019-20 and 2020-21. 

With those federal waivers expired now, MDE again has produced its School Index results, with data from the 2021-22 school year. In compliance with federal ESSA, restarting the annual publication of the Michigan School Index includes identifying low-performing schools for support.

The accountability system has several implications for schools, according to ESSA:

Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI)

  • Lowest performing 5% of schools OR high schools with 4-year graduation rates of 67% or below.
    • Lowest performing schools determined by the School Index System’s Overall Index Value.
    • Four-year graduation rates of 67% or below determined under the graduation component of the School Index System.
  • Identified every three years.

Additional Targeted Support (ATS)

  • Schools having both:
    • One or more student groups in the bottom 25% of each applicable component on the School Index System, AND
    • One or more student subgroups in the bottom 5% overall
  • Identified every six years (every other CSI cycle)

Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI)

  • Schools having at least one student group performing in the bottom 25% of each of the school’s components on the School Index System
  • Identified annually

School Index resources, including documents covering School Index calculations, school identifications, and historical results, can be found on MDE’s School Index webpage.

The numbers of schools identified for all three types of support increased this year. Schools identified for CSI went from 162 in 2016-17 to 255 in 2021-22; schools identified for ATS went from 60 in 2017-18 to 68 in 2021-22; and schools identified for TSI went from 63 in 2018-19 to 138 this year.

Dr. Rice noted that more than 2,900 schools were not identified for state supports through the School Index system.

“We are committed to providing help and support to schools that have struggled the most over the past two years,” Dr. Rice said. “It will take extraordinary work at the local, regional, and state levels to get all students on positive educational paths as we come out of the pandemic. It is imperative that educators and non-educators alike act with the requisite urgency.”

Intermediate school districts will be active partners with local school districts and MDE in supporting CSI schools and partnership districts.  In addition, for low-performing schools that are not in partnership districts, MDE and ISDs will work together with the schools to meet schools’ specific needs.

"Intermediate school districts across Michigan are invested in working with their local school districts and MDE in new and innovative ways to support teachers and positively impact student achievement,” said Dr. John Severson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators. “We understand the urgency to help and are ready to serve.”

MDE’s Office of Partnership Districts will provide three levels of support to districts with partnership agreements – Intensive, Essential, and Fundamental. MDE’s Office of Educational Supports will provide a basic level of support to districts that have schools identified for CSI and ATS that are not in a partnership agreement. Districts with schools only identified for TSI will be assisted through universal support provided to districts by MDE and through their ISDs.

Click on these for the list of Partnership Districts and CSI, ATS, TSI and schools identified for supports.

For more information on the state’s School Index system, click here.