Southeastern Michigan’s Charter Authorizers rank below state averages academically

In Southeastern Michigan there were 15 charter school authorizers during the 2013-14 that were included in the state’s Top-to-Bottom (TtB) list; only one of which was ranked among the best (above 80). The TtB list is an accountability system that ranks Michigan schools based on student performance in math, reading, writing, science, social studies and graduation rates (24 total charter school authorizers were included throughout the state). This list allows for schools to be compared on the same scale, regardless of size. The charts below presents each authorizer’s portfolio as a single entity, rather than by individual schools, by a methodology developed by the Michigan Department of Education’s Bureau of Assessment and Accountability. Like schools and districts throughout the state the charter school authorizers are ranked on a scale of 1-100, 100 being the highest ranking.

It was the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (ISD) that ranked at 85, being the only charter school authorizer to rank above 80 in the region. The only other charter school authorizer to even rank of above 50 in the region was Wayne Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), which ranked at 52.

The Educational Achievement Authority, which authorizes several schools is the city of Detroit (click here for locations) was ranked the lowest authorizer in the region and among the lowest in the state with a ranking of 1 (Kellogg Community College and Muskegon Heights School District also received a 1).Top-to-Bottom Rankings

The Overall Performance Index uses an achievement index, which is a weighted average of two years of achievement data, and achievement gap index, which is a weighted average of two years of top/bottom 30 percent of students’ achievement data, according to the 2014 Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Reporter. The negative scores show that authorizers whose performance index fell below the state average.

The only two authorizers that performed above the state average in the region were the Washtenaw ISD and Wayne RESA. The Washtenaw ISD ranked the third highest for its performance index score (.91) among the 24 authorizers. On the other end the Education Achievement Authority (-1.74) and the Detroit City School District (-1.57) ranked among the lowest authorizers, both in the region and throughout the state. The Muskegon Heights School District (-1.83) and Kellogg Community College (1.75) had the lowest performance index scores in the state.

An achievement gap smaller than the state average is represented by a positive number and means that students in the top 30 percent of state standardized test scores perform at levels closer to the bottom 30 percent, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report. It has also been described as the performance gap in a subject between the top 30 percent and bottom 30 percent of a student body. A positive number means that gap is smaller than the state average and a negative gap means that number is larger than the state average.

The achievement gap accounts for 25 percent of the TtB rankings and below we see that six of the authorizers with charter schools in the region have an achievement gap smaller than the state average. Authorizers with small achievement gaps, such as the Education Achievement Authority and Highland Park City Schools, are more likely to have a concentration of low or high proficiency rates, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report.

In the five charts below we see the percentage of students deemed proficient on the 2013 Michigan Education Assessment Program for the five subject areas students are tested on (math, reading, writing, science and social studies). The authorizers represented above all had charter schools existing in the region during the 2013-14 academic year. The Washtenaw ISD was the only authorizer in the region with students outperforming the state in all subject areas. Wayne RESA was the only other authorizer in the region with students outperforming the state on the 2013 MEAP; this authorizer outperformed the state average in reading.

The Detroit Community School District had the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students at 88 percent. Eighty-five percent of students in the Highland Park, Educational Achievement Authority and schools authorized by Saginaw Valley State were economically disadvantaged. Schools authorized by Northern Michigan University had the lowest percentage of economically disadvantaged students at 27 percent.

The Michigan Authorizer report references the correlation between poverty and the percentage of African American students to proficiency rates on state standardized tests. There were no authorizers with schools in the region where more than 10 percent of the student population was economically disadvantaged that ranked above 50 on the TtB list.

When reviewing the above information with our previous post we know that majority of charter schools in the 2013-14 academic year in the region were located in the City of Detroit and that the city also had the highest number of closed charter schools at 28. Additionally, we know Central Michigan University had the largest number of schools closed in the region. Although Central Michigan University didn’t rank lowest on the TbT list, it didn’t rank high. With a TbT ranking of 21 Central Michigan’s MEAP proficiency rates were all below the state average (9% below state average for math and reading; 5% below the writing average; 6% below the science average; 7% below the social studies average). Central Michigan University was 19 percent above the state average for economically disadvantaged students.

Of the authorizers with schools in the city only Wayne RESA had students outperformed the state standard, and that was in math. Still, when only looking at authorizers in the city of Detroit Wayne RESA had the largest number of shuttered charters at 8.

While standards for Michigan charter schools have gained more attention in recent years, the above information highlights that the charter school authorizers in the region fall below state standards when it comes to educational assessment. Former State Superintendent Mike Flanagan did say the state would suspend charter authorizers if they did not offer “high quality education options and cultivate better outcomes, especially for low income children.”

In June of 2014 it was announced that 11 charter authorizers were at risk of being suspended by the Michigan Department of Education. These authorizers were: Detroit Public Schools, Eastern Michigan University, the Education Achievement Authority, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Highland Park Schools, Kellogg Community College, Lake Superior State University, Macomb Intermediate School District, Muskegon Heights Public Schools and Northern Michigan University. In 2015, 7 of those authorizers were removed from the list; those remaining are: Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority, Highland Park Schools and Eastern Michigan University. What qualifications those authorizers had to meet to be removed from the list are unknown though, according to a Free Press article.


Pontiac schools have lowest percentage of third-graders meeting state reading proficiency levels in 7-county region

Today kicks off “March is Reading Month” and with that comes a focus on the foundation that proficient reading skills can provide a person. A great deal of attention by educators and policymakers is often placed on third grade reading levels because experts believe a child’s ability to read at that time in their life can be a crucial indicator for their future success.

Additionally, in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder announced during his State of the State Address a $468 million proposal meant to increase reading proficiency in the State of Michigan. Part of this proposal includes a reading proficiency test for third-graders to better determine how their cumulative instruction has affected their reading skills, which would be separate than the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP). However, the Governor has yet to release all the details behind this plan but in spring of this year we do know that the Michigan Test of Education Progress will replace the MEAP.

Currently in the State of Michigan, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) is used to determine how students in grades three through 11 measure up to the educational expectations set by the State Board of Education. For all grade levels the state’s goal is to have 80 percent of all of Michigan’s third-graders reading at a proficient level, according to the State of Michigan.

With the extra attention currently being placed on reading proficiency in the State of Michigan, we chose to examine the percent of third and fourth-grade students who were deemed proficient on the MEAP reading exams in 2013-2014. The MEAP tests are given in the fall of every academic year, so we show both the third and fourth-grade reading proficiency percentages to provide readers a better understanding of where students’ reading skills, in accordance with state standardized testing levels, were at the beginning and end of third and fourth grade. On the state’s education website,, fourth-grade reading MEAP scores are used on the dashboard for each school as a student outcome measure.

For the 2013-14 school year, 61.3 percent of Michigan’s third-graders were deemed proficient in reading. When looking at this map we see several pockets of school districts where third-graders either performed at this level or below. In total, there were 53 school districts where less than 61.3 percent of the third-grade students were deemed proficient in reading. According to the Michigan Department of Education proficiency levels for the 2013-14 MEAP exam are determined as follows: “the 2011-2012 proficiency rate for each school and district in every subject [is] subtracted from the end 85 percent proficiency target rate for the 2021-2022 school year. That number [is] then divided by ten (the number of years between the 2011-2012 and 2021-2022 school years) to determine the annual increment for the subject target rate. This increment is added to the 2011-2012 subject proficiency rate and then again each year leading up to the 2021-2022 school year.” The proficiency rate varies from district to district but the percent deemed proficient, which is shown in the maps in this post, presents the percentage of students we met these standards.

Pontiac School District in Oakland County had the lowest percentage of third-graders who met the proficiency standards at 25.7 percent. Detroit City School District had the eighth lowest percentage at 35.3 percent.

On the opposite end of the spectrum during the 2013-14 school year, Grosse Ile Township Schools had the highest percentage of third-graders deemed proficient on the reading portion of the MEAP; 86.7 percent of those students were considered proficient.

Seventy percent of Michigan fourth-graders were deemed proficient in the 2013-14 school year on the MEAP reading examination. In total, there were 49 school districts below the state’s proficiency level during the time frame examined.

Again, the Pontiac School District had the lowest percentage of students deemed proficient in reading in the region (32%). The Detroit City School District had the sixth lowest percentage of all the districts in the region, with 42 percent of its students meeting the proficiency level.

Northville Public Schools had the highest percentage of students who met the reading proficiency levels (91.2%). Grosse Ile Public Schools came in third in the region, with 90.3 percent of their fourth-graders meeting proficiency levels.