LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Education has proposed its accountability system to allow students who fail a key standardized test to be considered proficient on the exam if they show significant improvement.
The change would mean some schools could get a better rating from the state when it introduces a color-coded accountability system next year, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.
Joseph Martineau, director of the Bureau of Assessment and Accountability at the Michigan Department of Education, said a change is needed to both acknowledge the difficulty in helping students who are the furthest behind and to give schools more credit for doing that successfully.
"Because we set the bar high, it is even more important now to be able to give credit for students making progress," Martineau said. "A significant amount of them are below the bar at this point."
The change would involve students taking Michigan Educational Assessment Program exams. It would need approval from the U.S. Department of Education.
Students who take the MEAP are classified as advanced, proficient, partially proficient and not proficient, and the first two levels are considered passing scores. The change would allow a student who scores partially proficient or not proficient to be counted as passing if their scores indicate they are on track for becoming proficient within four years.
Currently, the state allows students on track for becoming proficient within three years to be counted as proficient.
The proposed change is reasonable to avoid a situation "where goals are too far out of reach," said Robert Floden, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University.
The change would only affect ratings. A parent of a child who was counted as proficient because of his or her improvement wouldn't be told that child was proficient.
The proposal, however, has raised some concerns.
"We're really worried that Michigan could be sending the message that low achievement or low growth is rewarded in Michigan and that low achievement is equal to proficiency," said Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based education policy and research organization.