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State Cites 21 Flint Schools: Lagging MEAP Scores Put Them on Failing List

Flint - Nearly 60 percent of Flint's elementary and middle schools are on a state list of schools failing to make enough progress on test scores.

Some of the schools could lose their principal or teachers this school year as part of consequences tied to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The state has identified 21 of 36 Flint elementary and middle schools as needing improvement on Michigan Educational Assessment Program test scores in math, reading or both.
Area school districts got letters from the state this week telling them if they had buildings on the so-called failing school list.
Flint is the first local district to divulge it has buildings on the list. . . .

Eight Flint schools - Brownell, Civic Park, Garfield-Edison and Summerfield elementary schools; Johnson Academy; and Whittier Middle School - could face the harshest of the sanctions, which is having the state, a charter school or management company take over the buildings.

Flint administrators said they don't like schools being judged on one test, but they will do everything they can to comply with the law, improve the scores and avoid a takeover.

"It's not fair to place this much pressure on schools to produce when we don't have control over all the issues involved," said Linda Thompson, co-chief of schools.

"Nothing in this holds parents accountable," said Eugene Rutledge, chief of academics for the district. "It's all, What are the schools going to do,' but we only have the children six hours a day.'"

Parents at 19 of the 21 schools will get letters later this month telling them they can transfer their students to higher-performing schools in the district.

If a high-performing school is at or near capacity, the students with the lowest test scores and family income will be first in line for any openings.

Knowing the sanctions were coming, school officials budgeted about $750,000 for additional busing, $818,000 for additional services to students at failing schools and $747,000 for teacher training.

Fewer than 400 of the state's 2,800 elementary and middle schools are likely to be labeled as not making adequate yearly progress, said T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

The schools were measured on MEAP test scores given to fourth-graders and seventh-graders in reading and math. High schools were not measured this year.

Of Flint's 21 failing schools, four - Dort, Freeman, Holmes and Williams-Edison elementaries - may be removed if scores from MEAP tests taken earlier this year are improved enough to meet the state threshold.
In July, schools got a federal report listing failing schools, but the state has since lowered the standards so fewer schools are considered failing.

The earlier list had 84 local schools, including 35 in Flint and some schools in such high-achieving districts as Grand Blanc, Flushing and Fenton.

Flint school officials, principals, staff members and parents will form plans on how to improve their schools and submit them to the state by mid-May, said Linda Caine-Smith, co-chief of schools for the district.

The plans could include offering free before- or after-school tutoring, bringing in outside education consultants and giving teachers more training.

School administrators are concerned no funding is tied to the new requirements.

"Urban centers need additional funding and support to help us with many students who start the academic race three miles behind," Cain-Smith said. "We can make it to the finish line, but we need help."

— Matt Bach
State cites 21 Flint Schools: Lagging MEAP Scores Put Them on Failing List
Flint Journal
April 5, 2003


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