Farmington School Officials Looking for More Information on State Report Cards
Supt. Susan Zurvalec says the district may be required to open choice options for 'Focus' schools that are also Title I schools, but officials don't know how that will work.
Farmington Public Schools Supt. Susan Zurvalec has some questions about Thursday's Michigan Dept. of Education (MDE) release of "report cards" for the district's 17 K-12 schools.
For one thing, the district may have to look at opening intra-district schools of choice for 11 "Focus" schools, identified as having large gaps between high and low performing students, that are also Title I schools.
"We don't have all the details, but there appears to be a requirement ... to allow choice," Zurvalec said.
Zurvalec said while questions remain about the data, officials do know that "the better a school performs, the more likely it is you'll have a large gap." That holds true for Highmeadow Common Campus, which received an "A" grade and is ranked in the 98th percentile among Michigan schools, and has the "Focus" designation.
"It's really a unique metric that they're using, but the goal is to identify achievement gaps," Zurvalec said.
She noted the district already has initiatives in place to address gaps based on race, socio-economic status, special education and students who speak English as a second language.
"The fact that we've had schools identified with acheivement gaps is no surprise to us, and in fact, we've been working on this a long time," she said.
No 'apples to apples' comparison
Zurvalec and Kristin Gekiere, the district's director of assessment and school improvement, both say they'd like to see more information about how the state arrived at its results.
The most jarring result may be Harrison High School's "D" in the Education YES! state accreditation program rankings. Last year, the school received a "B", and Gekiere said the problem is not that students "just forgot everything they learned".
She explained that one of the grade's components compares last year's standardized test results with this year's, but doesn't equalize numbers based on higher cut scores in place this year. As a result, the gap between this year's performance and last year's is not an "apples to apples" comparison, she said.
Also, students judged partially or not proficient are weighted three and four times greater than those at the highest level when calculating the school's grade. "It's very punitive in nature if you have any students (partially or not proficient)," she said.
"The thing that upsets me most is the change in the cut score," Gekiere added, noting that the science and social studies cut scores for this year increased by 26 and 29 points, respectively.
Gekiere said Harrison failed to meet AYP because of one student in the special education program who didn't meet the graduation rate. North Farmington missed the mark because of an error in administering a standardized test to nine students with more profound disabilities.
Farmington Central also didn't make AYP because of graduation and performance issues, Gekiere said. "They have a more transient population, with students from all over the area," she said. "Consequently, they don't have enough students with a full academic year."
Zurvalec said data will be shared with individual schools, to assist them in creating school improvement plans. She hopes more detailed information will be made available.
"We're looking to get more information from the Department of Education, so each school can look at their metrics and understand it better," she said.