22 Aug 2014
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Dearborn Public Schools Miss Top Ranking in New State Assessment

Edsel Ford High School named "priority" school. Students will be required to attend one hour of additional classroom time beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Dearborn Public Schools Miss Top Ranking in New State Assessment
The majority of Dearborn's 33 public schools earned an average rating on the state’s new reporting system for school performance.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Education released the Michigan School Accountability Scorecards, a color-coded system designed to hold all of the state’s schools accountable under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In order of highest to lowest, the colors include green, lime-green, yellow, orange and red. The designations are based on meeting targets in several areas. According to the data, all but two schools fell into the yellow category. That means they received between 60 to 70 percent of possible points.

Dearborn High School received an orange ranking, and Edsel Ford High School received a red ranking.

Comparatively, only 13 schools in Metro Detroit earned the highest rating. No schools in Wayne or Oakland county received green status.

The scorecards examine student participation and student proficiency on state assessments, student graduation or attendance rates, educator effectiveness reporting and school improvement plan reporting.

Schools must meet targets for the bottom 30 percent of student achievers as well as for any subgroup that has a minimum of 30 students, including race and ethnic groups, students with disabilities and low-income students.

“This new color-coded system provides a meaningful diagnostic tool that gives schools, districts, parents, and the public an easy way to identify strengths and weaknesses,” said state superintendent Mike Flanagan. “It provides greater transparency and detail on multiple levels of school performance.”

Edsel Ford Named Priority School for 2013

In addition to the release of the Michigan School Accountability Scorecard, the MDE also designated several schools across the state as "reward" "focus" or "priority" schools for the 2013 academic year.

Reward schools include the top five percent of schools on the annual Top-to-Bottom ranking of all Michigan schools, as well as the top five percent of schools making the greatest academic progress over the previous four years from 2010 to 2013.

Seven DPS schools were named "Reward schools" and eight were listed as "Focus schools." Focus schools have the widest achievement gaps between the highest and lowest performing students.

In 2012 six schools in the district ranked in the "Focus" category, however Bryant Middle School and Fordson High School have since been removed from that list. The schools will remain on the three-year cohort list of Focus schools across Michigan.

Edsel Ford High School, which was previously listed with a Focus designation, was given a Priority designation in 2013.

Priority schools are those in the bottom five percent of the annual Top-to-Bottom ranking, and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years. As required under state law, priority schools are placed under the authority of the State School Reform Office and the schools will be required to implement an intervention model to improve student achievement.

"This is hard to accept, but we own it, and we will take the proper steps to move forward," Superintendent Brian Whiston said.

Whiston said the primary reason for the Priority designation was due to a decline in MME scores at Edsel Ford for the past four years.

"While we made achievement gains in 2013 and saw an improvement in graduation rates in 2012, the gains were not sufficient enough to make up for the substantial declines from 2010 to 2013," Whiston said.

The areas where the scores are the lowest are science and reading. In 2010, the high school's average science score on the MME was 27. That number dropped to 19 in 2013. Similarly, the average student reading score dropped from 57 in 2010 to 49 in 2013.

As a "Priority" school, Principal Scott Casebolt said Edsel Ford students will be required by the state to have one extra hour of education beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. That means classes will not dismiss until 3:15 p.m.

Casebolt said the extra hour will allow students the opportunity to brush up on their reading, writing, math and science skills.

Dr. Gail Shenkman, associate superintendent of secondary education, said students enrolled in the Henry Ford Community College Collegiate Academy, as well as students in the Dearborn Center for Math, Science and Technology, will not be required to participate in the extending learning time. Students who demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing and math, and who are not behind in credits will be able to use the extra hour to enroll in an elective class.

Shenkman said there are also opportunities for dual enrollment, Michigan Virtual High School AP classes or additional work experience credit.

Casebolt said the school will receive $2 million from the Dearborn Public School's $10 million at-risk funding to help pay for the extra hour of education, extra personnel, curriculum coaches and student transportation.

"We will spend $500,000 contracting out after-school transportation for Edsel Ford students," he said.

Moving Forward

Superintendent Brian Whiston said the school district is working aggressively to change Edsel Ford's "Priority" designation. 

One of the requirements is for the district to select a reform model. The district's four options are:
• Transformation: Principal must be replaced unless there is evidence of specific turnaround skills.
• Turnaround: Principal must be replaced and 50 percent of the staff must be replaced.
• Closure: School is closed and students are transferred.
• Restart: School is closed and reopened as a public school academy.

Whiston said the administration will implement the transformation model and provide evidence to the state that Casebolt has the requisite skills to lead Edsel Ford staff.

There is a rule that stipulates if a principal has been replaced within the last two full years (going back to the 2010-2011 academic year), the current principal does not have to be replaced. Casebolt was named principal of Edsel Ford during the 2012-2013 school year.

"Beginning last year, Edsel Ford's administration recognized the need to make substantial changes to teaching and learning. Focus schools funding was used to provide support for co-teaching, readers' apprenticeship and  Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) training," the district said in a letter to parents.

"We are certain that with the continuation and expansion of these efforts, extended learning time, and operational flexibility, Edsel Ford will make the necessary gains in achievement."

Casebolt said this year's plans include adding a math and literacy coordinator to work exclusively at the high school; providing extended learning time for students; and adding more professional development opportunities for teachers.

"I'll do everything it takes," he said. "I can't lose. Every student can and will learn. We continue to make investments to improve curriculum across the board."

Casebolt said the designation is "a big letdown," but the teachers and faculty at Edsel Ford are 100 percent committed to increasing educational growth at the school.

Whiston said the district has one year to analyze and evaluate the data from Edsel Ford before making any operational decisions, however both he and Casebolt wanted to implement a reform plan immediately.

"Why sit around and wait a year and then decide to do something?" Whiston said. "We want to act now and take our results back to the state next year to show them how we've improved."

A special meeting for Edsel Ford parents is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at the high school.

RELATED: How Do Dearborn Schools Rank?

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