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Michigan schools trying new ways to count remote students for Count Day

It’s Count Day for Michigan’s schools.

But this being 2020, it’s a little different this year.

Twice during the academic year, Michigan schools count the number of students in class. The resulting number determines how much state aid schools receive.

But with many students spending class time at the kitchen table instead of in the classroom, Count Day is going to be different this year. 

Because many students are remote learning from home, count day calculations will include various ways students connect online.

This year, there are two methods for obtaining membership for students who are in-person, virtual, or engaged through other forms of remote learning: 1) Four two-way interactions during the count period. One per week for one of the courses scheduled. These two-ways are between the student and teacher. 2) An activity in each of the scheduled courses on count day. A) Attendance in a live lesson The student attends a live lesson from the student's teacher or at least one of the student's teachers, and attendance is documented. This could be through a synchronous platform or in-person attendance. B) Login The student logs into an online or virtual lesson or lesson activity and the login can be documented by the local or intermediate school district. C) Phone call or Skype-like call The student and the student's teacher or at least one of the student’s teachers engage in a subject-oriented telephone conversation, and the conversation is documented. This could be through a synchronous platform such as Skype. D) Email The district or intermediate district documents that an electronic mail dialogue occurred between the student and the student's teacher or at least one of the student's teachers. For a district that chooses option 2, the course activities must either occur on count day, or if the student is absent, within 10 school days of an unexcused absence or 30 days from an excused absence.

To determine state funding, the Department of Education will also use a weighted student population.

Normally, a district’s final enrollment is calculated by adding 90 percent of the October count to 10 percent of the previous year’s February count. But this year a new formula, known a super blend, will determine district funding. It is a weighted blend of 75% of last year’s pupil count and 25% of this year’s pupils count.

Education officials are not expecting the changes will greatly affect the amount of state funding school districts will receive. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.