GRPS comments on AYP/Priority schools list | News
The Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal issued the followed statement in response to the Michigan Department of Education’s release of Priority/Focus/Reward schools list and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports.
“First and foremost, we commend Governor Snyder, Superintendent Flanagan, the Michigan Department of Education, and the State Board of Education for maintaining high standards and expectations of our public schools, staff, and students.
We take the results from this report very seriously and will use the information to build upon what we learned from the “listening tour” as part of the development of a 3-5 year action plan to be released in October. It is the dawn of a new day at GRPS and we know that part of the prescribed solutions by the state include closing schools that are not meeting our standards and expectations. I want our students, parents, staff and the taxpayers of this community to know that the time has come for us to look at how we start reinvesting in our schools and programs that are succeeding, while at the same time closing a number of schools that are falling short from an academic and enrollment standpoint.
The results released by the state were based on standardized test scores from the MEAP and the MME/ACT. While we recognize the value of these “single, snap shot” assessments, we believe it is important to use other measurements, like MAP tests, that are designed to measure student growth multiple times throughout a school year. The MAP test, which stands for Measures of Academic Progress, is a norm referenced test used by over 5 million students across the United States. The test is given in the fall, winter and spring of every school year, and is designed to measure individual student growth in Reading, Math and Science. With over 5 million students taking the MAP test every year, GRPS staff are able to compare the growth of our students with students and districts across the country, both urban and suburban alike. Additionally, starting this year, GRPS will be establishing Career and College Readiness Targets for all of our students using MAP scores. These Career and College Readiness Targets support Superintendent Neal’s vision of GRPS establishing itself as a world class school district. Using MAP data in conjunction with MEAP and MME data sources enables us to construct a more complete picture of our schools’ academic achievement progress.
As noted in a recently release Mackinac Center study “The Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card” on July 19, 2012, the standard “assessments have several limitations” including that they are “difficult to understand”, they “rely heavily on subjective measures”, and “none of these assessments adjusts for student socioeconomic status, which education researchers have consistently shown to have a significant impact on student achievement on standardized tests.”
While the latest list shows 10 schools on the Priority Schools list, it is important to note that:
- All but two of the schools listed reported double digit increases in the percentage of students who hit their typical growth targets on the MAP test. The MAP test is nationally recognized as one of the best assessments to measure student growth throughout a school year.
- Brookside Elementary and Shawnee Park both had the highest percent of improvement on their MAP scores, ranking them among the top 10% in the nation
- Three of our high schools ranked among the top in the county in ACT composite score gains. Union, Creston, and City High showed significant gains in ACT
It is also important to note that the Mackinac Center report listed four of our schools – City, Central, Creston and Ottawa Hills High Schools - among the top 10 in Kent County based on student growth and performance adjusted for socio-economic factors.
It is my hope that the MDE, our state lawmakers and local residents will take time to truly study the flaws in one size fits all testing, one size fits all funding, and look more deeply at some of the great things that are happening in our classrooms and schools despite the many external obstacles and other factors.
I also hope that the Grand Rapids community will be open to and accepting of some dramatic changes that need to occur in order to restore this district to its full potential. We have highly talented, dedicated education professionals who need the respect, support and encouragement of this community to keep working for the betterment of our students.”