Ferndale High School Listed as 'Reward' School on State Report Cards
John F. Kennedy School is listed as a 'focus' school, meaning it is among the 10 percent of schools with the widest achievement gaps.
Today the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released its school report cards, which includes the list of schools meeting state standards through Adequate Yearly Progress. And among the most successful is Ferndale High School.
Ferndale High School is listed as a "reward school" - a new designation from the state - meaning they have made significant gains in academic progress during recent years.
"We're very, very pleased with the designation as a reward school for Ferndale High School," said Stephanie Hall, community relations director for Ferndale Schools. "When our MME and ACT scores were released this year we were able to look at a steady upward movement of student performance for all students over the last four years."
FHS ranked in the 50th percentile in 2011 and this year is ranked in the 79th percentile.
“We applaud the hard work and achievement of the educators and students in our Reward Schools because they are zeroed in on improving learning,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan 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.”
Ferndale among districts failing AYP; appeal pending
While most schools in the district passed AYP, the Ferndale Public Schools as a whole did not, according to the MDE. But Hall said this issue is currently under dispute.
The only school within the Ferndale district to not make AYP was Adult Education. Hall said the reason is not related to achievement but instead about the number of students assessed. Michigan reported that not enough students took the state assessment, however the district believes this is not accurate.
"That is under appeal," Hall said.
A surprising list of southeast Michigan school districts have gone from a passing AYP designation a year ago to failing today. In total, 262 districts (48 percent) statewide did not make AYP, compared to 37 (6.7 percent) last year. At the school building level, 82 percent of schools made AYP across the state, compared to 79 percent last year.
The increase of schools not making AYP is due in part to the more rigorous career and college-ready cut scores now used on the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) and MME (Michigan Merit Exam) tests. In addition, the state now factors graduation rates for all students into the calculations and also now includes the achievement of certain student populations who previously may have not been counted.
In the past, districts only needed to meet AYP targets at one of three levels - elementary, middle and high school. Now, they are required to meet them at all three.
Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman for the MDE, said this year's designations put a focus on the achievement gaps between students and really tries to highlight the need for all students to achieve success.
"The goal is to have all students proficient, not just some," she said, adding that in the past there was the ability to mask poor student performance because the focus was on those students who were doing really well.
JFK listed as a 'focus school'
The new data also lists "focus schools" - the 10 percent of schools with the widest achievement gaps, meaning the academic disparity between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent. That list includes John F. Kennedy School.
Hall said the district is proud of JFK because it has shown "tremendous overall growth" during the past year. "But what we're seeing with this designation as a focus school is that we're needing to provide more support to our lower-achieving students in that school," she said.
Another measure of performance on the report cards is the Education Yes! grade, which is based on student achievement, achievement growth and self-assessments from schools.
John F. Kennedy School received the highest grade in the district, a "B," while all other schools in the district received a "C."
New school designations
While AYP was designed to measure student achievement as required by the federal NCLB, the waiver, received last month, frees Michigan from following some of the NCLB rules.
As a result of the waiver, the MDE has identified three new school designations: reward schools, priority schools and focus schools. Not every school fits into one of these categories.
Reward Schools: The top five percent of all Michigan schools in the annual top-to-bottom ranking and the top five percent making the greatest academic progress over the past four years. Ferndale High School is listed as a reward school.
Priority Schools: Previously called persistently lowest achieving schools, these are now identified as those in the bottom five percent of the annual top-to-bottom ranking and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years. There were 146 priority schools identified this year. These schools will be required to come up with a plan to improve. None of them are in Ferndale.
Focus Schools: The 10 percent of schools with the widest achievement gaps, meaning the academic disparity between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent. That list includes 358 schools, many who in the past would be considered high-achieving. The schools are now charged with bridging the gap. In Ferndale, John F. Kennedy School is listed as a "focus" school.
We are committed to closing the achievement gaps in all of our schools for all of our students,” Flanagan said in the release. “With this measure of transparency, schools will be identified and held accountable for the achievement of all of their students.”
Because of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver granted from the federal government, the state in 2012-2013 will no longer be measuring districts based on AYP. Starting next year, school districts will receive accountability scorecards that use five different colors to recognize varying levels of achievement and accountability for each school and district.