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Published: Saturday, 12/1/2007

6 local high schools fail progress report

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Six high schools in Monroe and Lenawee counties failed to achieve adequate yearly progress during the 2006-2007 academic year because they failed to raise test scores among demographic subgroups.

In results released yesterday by the Michigan Department of Education, high schools in Tecumseh and Hudson joined those in Adrian, Airport, Bedford, and Monroe on the list of schools that didn't meet the federal standard.

In each case in Monroe and Lenawee counties, the reason the schools failed to achieve adequate yearly progress was because subgroups, such as those enrolled in special education classes, did not have a sufficient percentage of students pass annual standardized tests.

"It's an unfair grade because if you look at the rest of our scores, our scores are above the state levels, above the county levels, they're great across the board," Bedford High School Principal Denny Caldwell said.

"Those kids are in a subgroup because they have learning disabilities, and they're held to the same standard as general education kids? That doesn't make sense."

Statewide, the percentages of high schools in Michigan not making adequate yearly progress increased by 9 percent, from 399 during the 2005-2006 school year to 489 during 2006-2007 academic.

"This isn't unexpected," Mike Flanagan, Michigan superintendent of public instruction, said in a written statement.

"We changed our high school graduation requirements because we knew we needed higher standards to prepare our kids for the demands of college and the work world. These results just remind us how critical that change was.

"We knew that as we begin to ratchet-up expectations of our schools so all of our students can be successful, we would see a few years of lower results," Mr. Flanagan said.

Michigan recently toughened its graduation requirements.

The changes include a more rigorous Michigan Merit Exam, which requires all Michigan high school students to take the ACT college entrance exam for the first time.

Bedford High School Principal Denny Caldwell calls the school's grade of C on the Adequate Yearly Progress Report 'an unfair grade,' saying it was held down by disabled students. Bedford High School Principal Denny Caldwell calls the school's grade of C on the Adequate Yearly Progress Report 'an unfair grade,' saying it was held down by disabled students.
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"We went up in everything and, as a school, we did really, really well, but our subgroups didn't make it and as a result we didn't make AYP," Monroe High Principal Ralph Carducci said.

Mr. Carducci said larger schools such as his are at a disadvantage in making adequate yearly progress under the federal guidelines because demographic subgroups in large schools are large enough to count.

Still, he and other educators are trying new things to improve scores among those with learning, physical, or other disabilities.

"We've created some classes to help those kids and we do some other things to help those kids succeed. We'll just have to wait and see how all that works out," Mr. Carducci said.

The Michigan Department of Education reported adequate yearly progress for elementary and middle schools in August.

Information for all schools in the state, including the high school information reported yesterday, can be accessed at the Michigan Department of Education Web site: www.michigan.gov/mde.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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