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Changeup underway in the way state grades schools

Woodley Wonder Works

Michigan will change how it measures success and what it calls under-performing schools. In the future, schools that fall short will be called “priority schools,” and receive some coaching, and other help developing improvement plans.

The state recently won a waiver from the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act  to give it more flexibility in its school improvement plans.

Michael Flanagan is the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. He says future progress will be measured in smaller steps. He says the No Child Left Behind Act was well-intentioned, but needs some adjustments.

“They got a good thing going, which is all kids have to get to higher levels, but this is attainable now, and we’re going to get there. But if teachers feel like it’s absolutely impossible to get there, you stop trying,” says Flanagan.

Flanagan says the state Department of Education will do more to call attention to schools’ success stories.

One of the new categories of schools will be those where some students perform well but many students don’t. Education officials say those schools may require  unique approaches to reach students who are failing. The changes will take effect with the new school year.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.