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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Michigan gives schools in Bedford top grades

FROM BLADE STAFF AND NEWS REPORTS

The results of Michigan's EducationYES! Report Cards showed Bedford, Mason Consolidated, Ida Public, Summerfield, Dundee Community, and Whiteford Agricultural schools were among Monroe County school districts that met “adequate yearly progress.”

In Bedford Township, all five elementaries and the junior high school received an A grade. Bedford High School scored a B.

“That is good news,” Ted Magrum, acting superintendent of Bedford Public Schools, said.

Not including Orchard Center, Monroe Schools' alternative high school, all facilities in Monroe Public Schools met federal standards.

Barry Martin, director of Monroe Schools' state and federal programs, said this was the first time that all the buildings in the district met the federal academic targets required under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Mr. Martin said the high school, which failed last year to meet standards, had been hampered by special education and economically disadvantaged subgroups, which scored poorly in the past.

“These were a problem. Butwe have paid particular attention in focusing on the subgroups by concentrating on strengthening co-teaching efforts between special education and regular classroom teachers. I really think that helped,” Mr. Martin said.

The share of Michigan high schools making progress toward meeting academic performance goals made a huge jump in the last school year to 71 percent, up 24 percentage points from the previous school year.

Michigan Department of Education spokesman Janet Ellis said yesterday the improvement occurred in part because math scores improved among students in third grade through high school, especially among economically disadvantaged students and those with disabilities.

Also, high school graduation rates rose at more schools after the federal government gave the state a waiver to let a school count as a successful graduate any student who earned a diploma within five years after starting ninth grade rather than four.

Statewide, the percentage of all schools that made required progress jumped from 80 percent to 86 percent.

“It's very difficult to ever show that kind of dramatic increase in a year,” Ms. Ellis said. “I think it shows that Michigan's on the right track and that our standards that we put in place, that we are nationally recognized for, are working.”

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires states to issue annual progress reports on schools.

About 93 percent of elementary schools made adequate yearly progress in 2008-09, the same percentage as the year before. Ninety-five percent of middle schools did the same, an increase of 6 percentage points.

Schools that don't make adequate progress for two straight years wind up on a sanctions list. The sanctions become tougher every year.

Thirty-five schools were removed from the sanction list after having made annual yearly progress two years in a row, but 514 schools remain on the list.

In Erie Township, Mason Senior High School and Mason Middle School each scored a letter grade of B while Mason Central Elementary again reached the A grade status.

Debra McCain, Central principal, said the school consistently has scored at that level, in part, because teachers work with students who need help on writing in standardized testing. “We targeted the students who are the ‘bubble kids' and seem to barely pass the writing. We offer summer school programs and have common planning times so teachers in the same grade level work together as a team,” she said.



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