District officials review state accountability scorecards

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published August 27, 2014

HARPER WOODS — District officials discussed the positive news and what needs improvement after the Michigan Department of Education released its School Accountability Scorecards and Top-to-Bottom rankings earlier this month.

Harper Woods Schools Director of Academic Accountability and Student Services David Rabbideau gave a presentation about the new report cards at the Aug. 19 school board meeting.

“There’s a lot of positive news in Harper Woods as it relates to student achievement in these scorecards,” Rabbideau said.

Some of the schools in the district saw improvement in their rankings in the color-coded system. Last year, the state launched the new color-coded rankings. It’s an elaborate formula. Ultimately, though, the goal is to show which schools are on their way to attaining the new goal of 85 percent proficiency in academic categories by 2020.

Beyond student proficiency on state assessments, the scorecard considers various factors including student participation on state assessments, attendance or graduation rates, school-improvement-plan reporting, and more.

The colors are green for schools that attain 85 percent or more of the possible points in the categories measured, lime for 70-84 percent, yellow for 60-69 percent, orange for 50-59 percent, and red for fewer than 50 percent of the possible points.

Beacon Elementary raised its color ranking from yellow to lime in the last year.

There was good news for the high school. Last year, the high school ranked as a priority school, meaning they fell in the bottom 5 percent of the Top-to-Bottom rankings. They’ve pulled themselves out of priority status and are now at 9 percent in the rankings. The Priority School ranking gave the school an automatic red in the color-coding system last year. This year, the high school is an orange.

The middle school remained at yellow. Tyrone Elementary School was an orange last year and is a red this year, but it reportedly wasn’t due to student performance factors. Tyrone would have been yellow this year if based on points earned, which includes student achievement, but it ended up earning a red. The ranking process has multiple factors and some bureaucratic issues can bring a school’s ranking down despite points earned.

District officials are looking into that ranking and may have an opportunity to address it.

“There are still updates pending on that status,” Rabbideau said.

Because Tyrone earned a red, the district must automatically be labeled red, but it would have been yellow had it been based on points earned and student performance on exams, Rabbideau said.

As for Top-to-Bottom rankings based on student performance, all of the schools moved up the rankings list except the middle school. Beacon went from the sixth percentile to the 15th. Tyrone raised its ranking from the 11th percentile to the 20th percentile. The high school went from the third to the ninth, and the middle school went from the 26th to the 14th.

One area that the district needs to address, according to the accountability scorecard and other data, is science. The district has started the ball rolling on new science instruction.

While they have work to do in science, Superintendent Todd Biederwolf noted some good news from recent ACT results showing that they are making some progress.

The district is below state averages in science scores, but they’re making gains. While there was a less than quarter of a point rise in science scores across the state on the ACT, Harper Woods saw a full-point gain.

“A full-point gain on the ACT is a significant improvement,” Biederwolf said. “We have been working to address it, but we must continue to make it a point of priority.”