The Michigan Department of Education on Tuesday released ratings for school districts and schools across the state using a new system called School Accountability Scorecards.
The system replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards, which the Birmingham Public Schools met as a whole last year. In addition, seven Birmingham schools — including five elementary schools and two middle schools — were named best-of-the-best.
Search the new database for your school and other school districts around the state for more specifics.
District officials said they were still trying to discern the information, that at a glance, showed mixed results Tuesday afternoon.
The district, overall, finished with a yellow designation, and a possible 78 of 118 points, the data showed. The yellow was very common for district's statewide, including typical high-achieving neighbors like Bloomfield Hills Schools and Troy Public Schools.
All BPS buildings finished with a yellow designation except Groves High School, which was flagged red for having 50 of a possible 66 points. The school finished in the 77th percentile statewide and is in the Focus school category.
Defining resultsThe state defines a Focus school as being in the top 10 percent of schools with an achievement gap — meaning the academic disparity between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent. The schools are now charged with bridging the gap.
Superintendent Daniel Nerad did not address the data specifically, but said every school in the district already has an improvement plan.
"As a district, prior to these scorecards, we knew what our strengths were and where our challenges were relative to student achievement," he said in an email to Birmingham Patch.
"There are numerous challenges in attempting to discern what the scorecard data means."
The data does reflect some glaring disparities in evaluations.
For example, Birmingham's award-winning Covington School and Harlan Elementary School finished with yellow scorecards, despite respectively finishing within the 98th and 96th percentile of schools statewide. The same occurred for Seaholm High School, which finished within the 95th percentile.
"These cards attempt to simply describe how schools are performing but we know schools are much more than what can be described in a singular color," Nerad said. "I fear these scorecards will serve to confuse more than help."
Whether or not they agree with how the system evaluates progress, districts will have to pay attention. State officials made it clear the government intends to use the new color codes to chart improvements and see how the districts uses the tool to identify strengths and weaknesses.
“It provides greater transparency and detail on multiple levels of school performance,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a written statement.
“This is expected to have schools focusing on every student’s academic growth,” he continued. “We believe that every school can reach these goals.”
Rob Glass, superintendent of the Bloomfield Hills Schools, described the scoring system as new and very complex. And while it does provide feedback about areas that districts need to improve, he said parents and local residents should understand some drawbacks.
Primarily, it only takes one subgroup to be off track to reach 85 percent proficiency or to not test over 95 percent to prevent a school or district from receiving higher than yellow.
"I’m concerned that the effect of the ‘audit checks’ that dramatically affect a school or district’s color will cause the average citizen to look at the color designation and falsely attribute poor quality to a school or district," he said.