Local superintendents comment on results

OSCEOLA COUNTY — As area students receive their report cards for the end of the marking period, area school districts are also receiving their scorecards from the Michigan Department of Education.

The Department of Education grades schools against a five-tier color-coded system. From highest to lowest, the ranks are green, lime, yellow, orange and red. Statewide, most districts are yellow, which holds true within the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District. All the member districts are yellow with the exception of Morley Stanwood Community Schools, which is red, the lowest possible ranking.

Accountability scorecards, found online at mischooldata.org, show “federally required school and district accountability ratings under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB),” according to the website. Results are summarized by proficiency, participation and additional factors, such as race and economic status.

The 2016 Michigan School Scorecards Comprehensive Guide notes scorecard colors are tied to the percentage of points earned in the various components.

However, it’s not a direct correlation between a district’s percentage of status points and color ranking.

“If a school or district has enough red cells present, the overall Scorecard color outcome may be lowered even though the school or district has earned sufficient number of points to be in one of the higher color ranges,” the guide states.

This is the last year the state will use the color-coded system and area educators have expressed uncertainty about correctly interpreting the results. The tests the scores are based on have changed from year to year, and the rankings systems changing does not help make understanding easier, they noted.

Evart Public Schools

Evart Public Schools administrators have looked over the district’s scorecard, indicating an overall yellow status, as it received 65.2 percent of the overall score.

Evart Elementary scored a lime green, despite test scores being some of the lowest in the ISD. The middle school received a yellow status. The high school received a red status due to not meeting participation criteria, though test scores were among the highest in the ISD.

Superintendent Shirley Howard said the results show one snapshot of one test of how EPS students performed on a test dictated by the state.

“Obviously, our elementary is not ranked very high,” she said. “The middle school and high school, in comparison to others throughout the ISD, did fairly well.”

Howard explained changes made to the elementary school’s language arts will make a difference in future scores.

“We want those scores to be higher,” she said. “With changes to language arts this year, you’re not going to see quick changes. It takes a while. It’s disappointing. We would like to be much higher and we are working on it. We’re focusing on getting children off to an early start at the lowest level before it compounds later."

Reed City Area Public Schools

Reed City Area Public Schools received an 80 percent of the overall points giving the district a yellow scorecard. G.T. Norman Elementary and Reed City Middle School received yellow statuses, while the high school received a lime green status.

Superintendent Tim Webster said the district’s scorecard at face value shows the district is average to just above average.

“We have looked district-wide and identified the low points and are working hard on them,” he said. “We are constantly striving to improve test scores.”

One area considered on the district’s scorecard includes results of RCAPS’ scores for the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, Webster explained.

However, the superintendent said some results from the M-STEP conflict with scores from the Northwest Evaluation Assessment, a separate testing system the district also uses.

“There are some major conflicting scores on some subjects,” he said. “Where there are areas of similar low scores on the two tests, that’s where we are focusing our time.

“The school improvement plan looks at curriculum, professional development for teachers, if we need to change strategies and making sure the curriculum is aligned among teachers and from one grade to the next grade.”

Morley Stanwood Community Schools

Morley Stanwood Community Schools earned 78 percent of the overall status points available for the district, but has a red scorecard due to missing paper-and-pencil tests, which lowered the district’s testing participation scores. Eight special needs students in the district did not take the online version of the annual test, instead taking a traditional test on paper, which got lost.

The tests were sent to the state, and the district has receipts for sending and delivery of the box, but those tests were never scored and entered into the district’s information by the state, explained Superintendent Roger Cole. As a result of this year’s scorecard results, the district will no longer allow paper-and-pencil testing, he said.

Overall, MSCS administrators were pleased with the results.

“The focus from my point of view is we scored the second-highest in the ISD as a district and were only off the top spot by 2 percent,” Cole said. “Our academic rigor is as strong — and as you can see — stronger than many area districts.

“If we look at the numbers and not the color chart, it shows what we already know — this is a good school to come to.”

Going forward, the district’s school improvement team will evaluate the data and create a plan for further action to continue to improve student outcomes.

Big Rapids Public Schools

Big Rapids Public Schools earned 71 percent of the total possible points on their scorecard, and received a yellow rating. Two of the five schools tested in the district received recognition for their work.

“We are extremely proud of both our elementary schools,” said Superintendent Tim Haist. “This is a credit to the work done by the staff and the students.”

With the results, Haist can see which areas need improvement in each school and across the district.

“Looking at our scores we can see where we need to improve in closing the gap with the bottom 30 percent of our students,” Haist said. “But overall, we feel good about our scores.”

Chippewa Hills School District

Chippewa Hills School District earned 75 percent of the total possible points on their scorecard, and received a yellow rating overall. Of the districts six schools, the high school and Barryton and Weidman elementaries received lime ratings, while Mecosta Elementary, Chippewa Hills Intermediate School and Mosaic School were rated yellow.

Chippewa Hills Superintendent Bob Grover was unavailable for comment on the results.

Crossroads Charter Academy

Crossroads Charter Academy received a yellow rating for their scorecard. They earned 77 percent of their total possible points.

“I’m proud of our kids,” said Superintendent Christopher White. “I think they did very well. Their proficiency levels were really high.”

White said even with the high scores, the schools will not be using the scores as guidelines to make improvements because the scores are based on data from the last academic year.

“We can’t wait so long for scores to come back,” White said. “We can’t wait to help the kids, we need to help them sooner.”