Why do I feel that way? The state's latest effort to identify how schools are doing makes be believe that they are more interested in making high achieving schools look bad than they are in truly identifying student and school performance.
The state has created three achievement categories: Reward, Focus, and Priority.
Reward Schools are defined as schools that made AYP and were identified in one of three ways: 1) top 5% of schools on the Top-to-Bottom list 2) top 5% of schools making the greatest gains in achievement (improvement metric) or 3) "Beating the Odds."
Focus Schools are defined as "the ten percent of schools on the Top-to-Bottom list with the largest achievement gaps between its top 30 percent of students and its bottom 30 percent, based on average scale score."
Some schools in my district are identified as Focus Schools when they outperform other schools identified as Reward Schools.
I tell you - they are out to get me.
First, a few disclaimers. While schools in Novi have done well on the traditional measures of success - MEAP, MME, ACT, SAT - I believe that we can do better. I know that a significant reason for our success is the supportive community, our socio-economic status, and other non-school factors. I also recognize that we have achievement gaps that are quite significant.
As the Superintendent I can rationalize that we have many exceptional students and that some of our gap is the result of having such high achievers. In some schools a majority - a wide majority of our students - are proficient on standardized tests yet there is still a significant gap between the highest and the lowest achievers.
For example, in one of our schools 86% of the bottom 30% were proficient in reading and 71% of the bottom 30% were proficient in math. In another school, 76% of the bottom 30% were proficient in reading and 68% of the bottom 30% were proficient in math.
That's the bottom 30% of these schools! In many schools they don't have that many of their top 30% proficient.
Let me repeat that I know we have gaps and I know we have to close those gaps. If I were the parent of a student who was at the bottom end of the range in my school I would want to know what the school was doing to raise the achievement of my student. It is unacceptable that we have such significant gaps.
But, the gaps we have are, for the most part, between those who are very proficient and those who are not quite as proficient.
Yet the state has chosen to label some of the schools in my district "Focus Schools." The state defines "Focus Schools" as "the ten percent of schools on the Top-to-Bottom list with the largest achievement gaps between its top 30 percent of students and its bottom 30 percent, based on average scale score."
So here is what I see.
Which school is the "Reward School" and which school is the "Focus School." School One is a Focus School, while School Two, which if I see this correctly, scored lower in every category except student growth than School One, is the Reward School.
I tell you they are out to get me!
The state calls these achievement classifications. In my opinion the achievement classification system does not accurately represent achievement. As a result, high achieving buildings in my district have a label that they have to spend time explaining when that time could better be used doing other things.
Why would the state do this? It's not that I am paranoid but could it be that they wanted to create a system that identified schools from across the spectrum instead of just identifying schools that had low achievement.
I'm not paranoid, but that doesn't mean they are not out to get me!
I promise that his will be my last comment on the state of Michigan's recent change in how they report school performance.