2012-10-18 / Front Page

School tackles report issues

MHS fails to make AYP, district looks to recoup

MANISTIQUE – The Manistique Area School district has received their Annual Education Report and, according to school officials, has some work to do. During Monday’s meeting of the Manistique Board of Education, the report was discussed, along with remedies to address its results.

According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, the AER highlights the educational progress of the district for the 2011-2012 school year. The report includes: student assessment data (Michigan Educational Assessment Program, Michigan Merit Exam, and Michigan’s Alternative Assessment Program); the district’s “top to bottom” ranking; Adequate Yearly Progress status; teacher qualification data; and National Assessment of

Educational Progress data.

“The district did not make adequate yearly progress this year,” explained McDonough. “As everybody knows, there were some new cut scores issued by the state, raising the bar on the MEAP.”

According to the Michigan Department of Education website, the scores for all state assessments are reported in ranges called performance levels. A cut score is the point on the scale that separates one performance level from the next. New career- and college-ready cut scores were implemented in 2011 to track student achievement for career- and college-readiness in high school, and ensure their proficiency in the next grade. As a result, the cut scores recently adopted are higher than the previous.

“The district was positioned very well under the old scores, but with the new one, it dropped us,” McDonough explained. “We are by no means the only district that found themselves in this situation. We did not find ourselves as a focus school, a priority school, or any of that, but we do have work to do.”

Emerald Elementary did make AYP, but the middle/high school did not meet the criteria for the new cut scores and the district failed to make progress in the State Graduation Objective.

“We missed by four percentage points in our economically disadvantaged population, but we have been actively addressing this issue,” McDonough explained.

To remedy the situation, she noted the district has been implementing a variety of initiatives, such as the MiBLSi (Michigan Integrated Behavior Learning Support Initiative), the Emerald Online Academy, and the return of a GED program – provided by North Menominee County Community Schools.

“With the combination of all of those, we should see, at least this piece of our report improving,” McDonough said.

In the middle/high school, Principal John Shiner said, for this year’s MEAP test, the school was more prepared. Using the mutual standards put forth by the state and Michigan Core Curriculum, he said instructors were able to teach a specific set of skills.

“My instructors have been focusing very, very carefully on the stuff that was specifically tested,” he said. “I guess you can blame us for teaching to the test. We most indeed are teaching to the test this time around, because, whether we like it or not, it is what is going to elevate our status – that’s the dance we’ve been told to dance.”

Shiner also noted the school has been boosting the academic performance of at-risk students by placing them in smaller groups to improve the student/instructor ratio and focus on problem areas.

At Emerald Elementary, the only school to make AYP, Principal Erik Mason noted there are some areas the school will be focusing on, despite their success. The school’s improvement plan includes focusing on: basic mathematics, using AIMSweb (a web-based assessment, data management, and reporting system that works with the Multi-Tiered System of Support to monitor student progress); increase student engagement in reading, physical science, and writing.

“We are diligently working toward providing a 21st century learning experience for our students,” explained McDonough. “Once the board reorganizes in January, I would like to sit down and have a board workshop with my principals, establish new goals in light of the new cut score, and move forward with some additional new district goals with them on board and their changes.”

In other business, the board also heard the unaudited student count conducted in February 2012. According to McDonough, there were 505 students enrolled in the middle/high school, 322 at Emerald Elementary, and 29 at the Jack Reque Alternative High School. This resulted in a district count of 856 students – up 23 from the February 2011 number of 833.

“We do have a lot of clean-up in the system to do before we can actually submit our official count reports,” she added.

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