A sharp climb in the standards necessary to meet federal education requirements triggered a steep decline in the number of Michigan schools meeting provisions of the No Child Left Behind act, according to results released on Monday by the Michigan Department of Education.
The declines were steepest among high schools, where just 60 percent of schools met the required Annual Yearly Progress, down from 81.9 percent a year earlier. Smaller declines were seen among middle and elementary schools.
Failure to meet AYP for two or more consecutive years can trigger sanctions. The consequences are more severe the longer schools fail, and range from having to offer transportation to students who want to go to another school to school restructuring.
Much of the decline in passing AYP was blamed on tougher standards. The U.S. Department of Education is now requiring that more students be proficient in math and English than before. For instance, for third graders last year, a school needed to have 70 percent of its students proficient in reading and 67 percent in math. That rose to 78 and 75 percent, respectively, this year.
To make AYP, a school must test 95 percent of its students and meet benchmarks in English language arts and math or reduce the percent of students who aren't meeting the benchmark by 10 percent. For high schools, students are tested on the Michigan Merit Exam and must meet an 80 percent graduation rate. For elementary and middle schools, students are tested on the MEAP, and schools must meet or exceed 90 percent attendance rate.
The state also released its annual accreditation grades, which are largely based on student test scores. Schools with a D/Alert or better are accredited. Schools that do not meet AYP can still meet accreditation standards.