Michigan Decision Letter for State Accountability Plans under the Consolidated State Application Process

July 16, 2007

The Honorable Michael P. Flanagan
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Michigan Department of Education
608 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, MI 48909

Dear Superintendent Flanagan:

I am writing in response to Michigan’s request to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Michigan submitted to the Department on July 12, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Michigan’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of Michigan’s requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Michigan accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.

Please also be aware that approval of Michigan’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved above, does not indicate that the plan complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

I am confident that Michigan will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts (abigail.potts@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (sue.rigney@ed.gov).


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary

cc: Governor Jennifer Granholm
Jeremy Hughes

Amendments to the Michigan Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of the State’s amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.govhttps://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Michigan accountability plan.

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

Definition of a New School (Element 3.1, 3.2)

Revision: Michigan will define a new school when 50 percent or more of the student composition changes within a one-year period with the exception of feeder-school grades, and assessment results for the school cannot be validly compared across years. Schools not in restructuring may also be considered a new school when the legal governing entity to which the school is accountable turn over its responsibility and authority to a new legal governing authority and when at least one of the following factors change substantively:

  • Staffing: Substantively changed staffing occurs when all the administrator(s) change and more than 50 percent of the certified teachers change.
  • Facilities: Substantively changed facilities occur when the building or set of physical resources is changed in a way that substantively affects the educational program.

Timely adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Element 1.4)

Revision: For 2007 only, Michigan requests to delay the release of AYP results should it prove necessary due to the fact that Michigan is administering a new assessment for high school students and a new alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3-8 and high school. In the event that high school report cards and report cards for schools administering alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards are delayed beyond the start of the 2007-08 school year, Michigan will issue preliminary school report cards to all schools based on results of the new assessments and will notify all schools that do not make AYP based on preliminary data that they must implement the consequences consistent with section 1116 of the ESEA. Schools that are already in school improvement and make AYP based on preliminary data will continue in school improvement status until Michigan’s final data are released.

Inclusion of High School Assessments (Element 2.1)

Revision: Michigan will use a student’s best score on the new Michigan Merit Exam (MME) in AYP determinations beginning with the graduating class of 2008, which is when the first group of students taking the MME will become seniors.

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)

Revision: Michigan will use the “proxy method” (option 1 in our guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the interim flexibility regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup (refer to: www.ed.govhttps://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/070207.html). Michigan will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. This proxy will then be added to the percentage of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, Michigan will use this adjusted percentage proficient to re-examine if the school or district made AYP for the 2006-07 school year.

Inclusion of limited English proficient (LEP) students (Element 5.4)

Revision: Michigan will incorporate the Department’s September 2006 regulations regarding LEP students. For LEP students enrolled in U.S. schools for their first year, Michigan will count as participants any student who takes the English Language Proficiency test (ELPA). If the reading/language arts assessment is taken, the student will be counted as a participant but the results will not be included in AYP determinations. For mathematics, all LEP students will take the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) or the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards in mathematics in order to be counted as a participant. However, results for newly arrived LEP students will not be included in AYP determinations. In addition, Michigan will allow districts the option of including former LEP students in AYP determination for up to two years after the students have exited the LEP subgroup.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: Students enrolled in a “middle college high school” or other recognized instructional program that provides for five years to acquire both a high school diploma and an associate degree or other career or technical certificate will be placed in a five-year cohort for calculating the school’s graduation rate. Five years will be considered the “standard number of years” for on-time graduation for those students who receive both a regular diploma and an associate degree or other technical certificate. If a student only receives a high school diploma after five years, and not an associate degree or other certificate, the student would not be counted as receiving a standard diploma in the standard number of years.

On a case-by-case basis, Michigan will also consider LEP students, medically fragile, and students with disabilities to be considered graduates if they receive a regular diploma within five years. For LEP students, several pre-conditions must be met, such as the LEP student must be newly enrolled in a school in the United States in high school. For students with disabilities, the determinations will be based on the recommendation of the IEP team.

For schools serving only grades 9-11 that do not have a graduating class but are still considered high schools, Michigan will use the dropout rate as the other academic indicator for AYP determinations.

Michigan will implement the National Governor’s Association definition of graduation rate and use this definition for purposes of calculating AYP beginning with the 2007-08 school year.

Unacceptable Amendments

The following amendments do not comply with the statute or regulations. Therefore, they are not approved.

Definition of AYP (Element 3.2)

The Department cannot approve Michigan’s proposal to identify for improvement only schools or districts that do not make AYP in the same content area for the same subgroup for two consecutive years. Section 1116(b)(1) of Title I requires a State to identify for school improvement any Title I school that fails, for two consecutive years, to make AYP as defined under section 1111(b)(2). There is flexibility in section 1111(b)(2) to permit a State to determine schools in need of improvement on the basis of not making AYP in the same subject for two consecutive years. This flexibility stems from other provisions in the statute that treat reading and mathematics independently (e.g., separate starting points and annual measurable objectives). These provisions recognize that student achievement in reading and mathematics in a State may be starting at very different points and thus the State would need to establish different trajectories to attain 100 percent proficiency. Concomitantly, it makes sense to permit a State to identify schools in need of improvement based on not making AYP for two years in the same subject. Subgroups, on the other hand, are not treated differently in the statute and thus the statute does not support similar flexibility to identify schools in need of improvement on the basis of “same subgroup” performance for two consecutive years. Moreover, this is inconsistent with the statute’s accountability provisions in section 1111(b)(2)(C), which require that each subgroup meet the State’s annual objectives in each subject each year. The intent of school identification is not to lay blame on a particular group of students, as the “same subgroup/same subject” proposal would do, but to identify the instructional and academic areas that need to be improved. A school that is identified for improvement should look to specific instructional remedies in the subject area, other indicator, or participation rate that resulted in its identification.

Graduation Rate (Element 7.1)

The Department cannot approve Michigan’s request for an extended graduation rate calculation for migrant students. Michigan proposed, on an individual case-by-case basis, to count the number of years a student was enrolled and attending school toward the “standard number of years” to graduate. This request is not aligned with the statute or regulations. Section 200.19 of the NCLB regulations, Section 1111(b)(2)(C)(vi) of the ESEA requires that all States include “graduation rates for public secondary school students (defined as the percentage of students who graduate from secondary school with a regular diploma in the standard number of years).” While the Department understands that some students with disabilities or newly arrived LEP students who attend a school in the United States for the first time in high school may need some additional time to attain a diploma and has granted Michigan the flexibility to include those students, the statute requires that the graduation rate use for AYP determinations be based upon the “standard number of years” which is four years from first enrolling high school.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans