Special Report


January 04, 2005 3 min read
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Standards and Accountability: Michigan has clear and specific standards in English for elementary and middle schools. Mathematics and science standards are clear and specific for elementary, middle, and high school, but state standards are not clear and specific at any grade level for social studies/history.

The state is one of only a dozen states, though, with standards-based tests for all grade spans in each core subject. Michigan is one of 19 states that use multiple-choice, short-answer, and extended-response items to measure students’ knowledge of English and other subjects in every grade span.

The state holds schools accountable for student performance. It publishes test data on school report cards, and it rates schools based, in part, on test results. Michigan provides help to schools identified as low-performing. And it imposes sanctions, such as closing schools or withholding state aid, on schools consistently rated as low-performing, including non-Title I schools.

Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: Michigan scores below average in this category, but the state has stringent requirements for subject-area coursework for prospective teachers. The state requires future secondary teachers to complete majors and minors in the subjects they plan to teach, so that they are endorsed in two content areas. Even elementary teachers must complete at least a subject-area major or three minors. But student-teaching requirements are minimal.

Michigan requires districts to provide novice teachers with three years of mentoring, but the state does not earmark funds specifically for that purpose.

Districts are permitted 30 percent fewer emergency permits each year, so that the state can comply with the “highly qualified” teacher requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Michigan plans to phase out such permits by 2006. School report cards, however, do not include the teacher-qualification data tracked by Education Week. The state also has not established a system for identifying low-performing teacher-preparation institutions.

School Climate: School safety indicators show a mixed picture in Michigan. The state board of education adopted a policy that encourages schools to draw up plans to prevent school bullying. The state also requires that students in grade 6 or above who commit a physical assault on another student be suspended or expelled.

But data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that, compared with students in other states, a smaller percentage of 4th and 8th graders in Michigan attend schools where school officials consider physical conflicts between students to be not a problem or a minor problem.

According to the Center for Education Reform, the state has a strong charter school law, which helps its grade.

But the state does not provide money for public school construction and renovation or monitor the condition of school facilities, causing its grade to dip.

Equity: According to Michigan’s wealth-neutrality score, a moderate amount of inequity in the availability of state and local funding is based on local property wealth.

The state ranks 36th of the 50 states on wealth neutrality. It ranks 39th on the McLoone Index, another measure of finance equity. The state has a coefficient of variation of 12 percent, indicating moderate discrepancies in funding across districts.

Spending: Michigan does fairly well in spending, based on fiscal 2002 data.The state ranks 14th in education spending, at $8,521 per pupil for the 2001-02 school year. It saw a 4.5 percent increase in funding from the previous year.

About 91 percent of students are in districts spending at least the national average, and the state ranks 12th out of 51 on the spending index, a comparative measure across states and the District of Columbia. Michigan ranks third on total taxable resources spent on education, at 5.1 percent.

From 1992 to 2002, the state posted an average annual increase in education spending, adjusted for inflation, of 1.6 percent, which was below the national average.


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