Grosse PointesAugust 15, 2012
District reacts to school report card information
By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTES — Districts take on new designations and the effect of fresh cut scores with the annual release of state report cards.
Grosse Pointe Schools, like districts across the state, had things to digest with the release of the report cards and top-to-bottom rankings Aug. 2.
All of the schools made AYP in the Grosse Pointe Public School System. Grosse Pointe schools received some big news to make the community proud, as five schools made the new designation of “reward school,” which means they are in the top 5 percent of schools in the state.
Brownell Middle School and Kerby, Maire, Richard and Monteith elementary schools made the top schools list.
Brownell Middle School Principal Mike Dib attributed the school’s success to “motivated students who are willing to work hard to be successful students and citizens in and out of the classroom, an excellent teaching and support staff who provide academic challenge and rigor for all of our students, (and) supportive parents who work in partnership with our teachers.”
For the Education Yes! grades, the district received A’s for seven schools, B’s for four schools and C’s for Poupard, North High School and Parcells Middle School. Changes in the cut scores affected the grades of most schools in the state.
“These new cut scores raise the bar for our students,” the district stated in a press release. “As anticipated, MEAP and MME scores in this inaugural year of the new higher cut scores were lower for most students. Consequently, building report card grades are also lower. We are confident this change is temporary, due to ongoing school improvement efforts and student support.”
The district fared well when compared with other schools in the state. Six of its schools ranked in the 90th percentile and above on the top-to-bottom list,” which means they did better than 90 percent or more of the schools in the state.
Besides renaming the previously “lowest performing schools” to “priority schools,” the state added a couple of new categories — one being the reward school, which puts a school among the top in the state on the top-to-bottom ranking released by the state, and the other being a “focus school,” or a school with the highest gap between the highest and lowest performing students in the school.
Brownell Middle School, Monteith Elementary, Kerby Elementary, Maire Elementary and Richard Elementary were named reward schools.
“We applaud the hard work and achievement of the educators and students in our reward schools because they are zeroed in on improving learning,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan stated in a press release. “We need to instill that goal in so many more schools, in order to help all kids be career- and college-ready and successful in life.”
The focus schools were Ferry Elementary, Defer Elementary, Parcells Middle School, Pierce Middle School and Trombly Elementary.
“Ferry and Defer host the district’s elementary magnet programs which exacerbate the difference between the highest and lowest students in those schools,” said Grosse Pointe schools community relations specialist Rebecca Fannon in an email explaining some of the results. “Poupard was among those schools not on the focus or priority list, which means students are showing growth and the achievement gap is being addressed.”
Grosse Pointe had schools on the new focus school list, but no schools on the low-performing priority schools list. However, schools that are focus schools can be some of the top performing schools at the same time.
“The recent top-to-bottom rankings have identified many high performing schools as having an achievement gap,” Pierce Principal Gary Buslepp said. “The challenge for Pierce and the 358 other focus schools is to raise the performance of lower performing students in reducing that gap. I have every confidence in our students, their families and our staff that we can meet that challenge.”
Grosse Pointe schools is working on addressing any student achievement gaps in its school improvement plan and plans to take steps to address the needs of all schools on the focus list.
“The Michigan Department of Education has indicated that they will develop and provide a district toolkit to each district that has a Focus school,” Pierce Middle School Principal Gary Buslepp said in an email. “I look forward to its release and welcome any new information aimed at closing the gap between high and low performing students. Until that occurs we are left with self-diagnosis and self-analysis.
“Students have unique needs and deserve to be successful in school,” he said. “Our school improvement plan embraces that uniqueness.”
Buslepp explained how teachers at Pierce regularly meet to review data and student needs.
He said that a number of students participated in summer math workshops to build math skills, and they are seeing growth.
That’s not all they’re doing either. There is work being done in the district to foster change in how students perceive learning to help students who may dislike school change their perception, which can result in improved performance.
“Establishing a culture ‘where high levels of student energy and teacher passion for a subject creates a culture for learning and all students hold themselves to a higher standard of performance’ is always the goal,” Buslepp said. “Having students engaged in the right supports (academic assistance, math foundations, after school study), continues to be part of the improvement plan as is engaging parents with timely and regular feedback regarding growth and achievement.”
The schools in the district that did not have one of the special designations created by the state also met state expectations.
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