Legislator: Improving State's Grading System for Schools A Priority

New system would put more focus on student growth

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Legislation to change the way the State of Michigan grades the performance of schools could emerge from the House Education Committee in December.

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R- Alto, chairs the House Education Committee. She also is the sponsor of House Bill 5112, which would create an A-F grading system for schools and would place greater emphasis on student academic growth. 

Rep. Lyons

"We've been working on some changes to the legislation," Rep. Lyons said. "We want a system that is transparent. I'm hoping we have something to put forward in committee within three weeks. ... The schools know that we're serious about this."

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy released a study in October that showed that the Michigan Department of Education is using a flawed system to grade (and rank) the performance of schools. According to the Mackinac Center study, the MDE's current system, "risks penalizing schools based not on their actual performance, but rather on the portion of low-income students they happen to enroll."

Audrey Spalding, director of education policy with the Mackinac Center, authored the study. She testified on House Bill 5112 at a committee hearing and said it would be an improvement over the system the state has been using.

"It would be better," Spalding said. "It doubles Michigan's focus on student growth. The current system bases 25 percent of a school's score on student growth. The system outlined in House Bill 5112 would have 25 percent on overall growth and 25 percent on growth of the lowest-performing 30 percent of students."

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