All of Utica Community Schools' traditional K-12 schools have met their No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports, despite a drop in statewide scores, but some schools have seen a drop in Michigan accreditation ratings.
“We are extremely pleased with all our traditional schools achieving AYP progress and earning strong grades this year. It’s a reflection of our talented staff members and their commitment to working with parents to drive student achievement,” said Utica Community Schools Superintendent Christine Johns.
Both of Utica’s alternative schools, AdvancePath and the Utica Learning Center, did not meet AYP provisions.
Even though all traditional UCS schools made the AYP, two high schools, Utica and Stevenson, and one middle school, Jeanette, earned B grades on their Michigan Education YES! Accreditation, which is the letter grades assigned to determine state accreditation.
However, UCS officials said Stevenson’s MME scores were among the highest in the district and the ACT scores went up a full percentage point this year.
Higher Expectations to Blame for Lower Michigan AYP Scores
Overall, Michigan schools saw a 7.1 percentage point decrease in students making AYP, dropping from 86 percent of schools in 2009-10 to 79 percent in 2010-11.
Michigan high school students showed significant declines in the percentage of high schools making AYP, going from 81.9 percent last year to 60 percent this year. Smaller declines were seen among middle and elementary schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said he expects the percentage of schools making AYP to continue to fall next year as Michigan is raising its assessment cut scores by as much as 10 to 12 points, especially in math. Cut scores are used to determine student proficiency.
“A couple of decades ago, achieving a very basic level of proficiency was sufficient to earn a living wage,” said Flanagan. “Today, students need to graduate from high school career- and college-ready.”
Robert Monroe, UCS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, expanded on Flanagan’s statement and said there has been a major shift in educators' thinking from career-ready to making sure the students are college-ready.
“We must continue to set high expectations for our schools so our students are prepared for the competitive global economy,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. “But we need an accurate and honest reflection of where our schools are in preparing our students.”
The AYP results are based on tests done in elementary, middle and high school reading, math and Language arts.
To make AYP, a school must test 95 percent of its students, and those students need to hit the benchmarks in the above subjects or reduce the percent of students who aren’t meeting the benchmark by 10 percent. For high schools, students are tested on the Michigan Merit Exam and must meet an 80 percent graduation rate. For elementary and middle schools, students are tested on the MEAP, and schools must meet or exceed 90 percent attendance rate.
Because AYP results are divided into categories of school subjects and by subgroups, such as ethnic groups, failure by any one subgroup can prevent a school from meeting AYP.
By 2014, the NCLB has called for 100 percent of all students to be proficient.