Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Five Updates: Who's Covering the First Elected Board, What's Your First Choice, Where's the Money Gone, Who's Listening Anyway, Why Keep Testing

1. Ypsilanti Community Schools board voted 4-3 not to do a superintendent search--their superintendent's contract will automatically renew in April for another year if they don't do anything.

It's not that I have an opinion about whether the school board should continue with Laura Lisiscki as superintendent, but I first heard about this issue on a facebook group. As a rumor. The rumor turned out to be true.

It also turned out that did cover the school board meeting, but that is not always a sure thing.

Who is routinely covering the school board meetings now? (Good question.) Does it matter that a discussion like this ends up with a 4-3 vote? (I would say that it does.) What is the best way to keep the community informed?

2. Ann Arbor schools has opened its doors to students from other districts. Part of me feels that this is poaching. On the other hand, the other school districts had already opened their doors to schools of choice.

But also--perhaps more interesting--you can also choose to send your kids to a different school within the district. Here's some information, the "window" for applications ends February 27th:

3. Local state representative Jeff Irwin explained how we can follow the money the other day on Facebook: 

I just finished my first meeting of the Appropriations committee. Chairman Al Pscholka offered some thoughtful and well-offered commentary at the beginning of the meeting focused on encouraging committee members to get educated on Michigan's budget. Then, we received a report from the House Fiscal Agency on state revenues.
This report highlights the impact of the massive changes that were made to business taxes in 2011. In summary, business taxes are expected to net just over $180M in the next budget. This represents only about 2% of the state's general fund. Just a few years ago, corporate taxes brought in around $2B per year in state taxes (about 25% of the GF). If you're wondering why tuition is going up, class sizes are going up and taxes on individuals are going up, now you have your answer. (Emphasis added.)

4. Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift is on her second listening tour. I thought the first one was pretty successful, and I'm planning to attend at least one of these. I hope you will go to one too--so you can bring up your most important issues, whether they be transportation, testing, trimesters, trigonometry, tenth grade, or (I'm running out of "t" words here)...

All discussions run from 6:30-8 pm unless otherwise noted:

Clip art taken from:
Monday, February 9 at the Administration Building hosted by the PTO Council
Tuesday, February 10 at Scarlett Middle School
Thursday, February 12 at Slauson Middle School
Monday, February 23 at the Downtown Library, 4th Floor at 12noon-1:30pm
Tuesday, March 3 at Tappan Middle School
Monday, March 9 at Peace Neighborhood Center
Thursday, March 12 at A2 STEAM at Northside
Thursday, March 26 at Pathways to Success Academic Campus
Monday, March 30 at Community High School
Tuesday, March 31 at Ann Arbor Open

5. Last, but not least, we come to testing. 
This spring there will be the M-Step, which is Michigan's "not" Smarter Balance and "not" the MEAP and "not" the ACT [but 11th graders will still ALSO have to take the ACT]...the last minute, untested, unvalidated, uncomparable to last year's MEAP but being used because state officials couldn't agree on using Smarter Balance standardized test. And this will probably be replaced by something else next year. Read all about M-Step here.

Well--if you want to know what is going on with testing at the state level, then I suggest you subscribe to the Michigan Department of Education's Spotlight on Student Assessment and Accountability

If you were paying attention a few months ago, you might remember that several local superintendents voiced the concern that there was too much testing in the 11th grade. And so I was interested in this tiny concession that was published in Spotlight: 
Due to concerns around testing time, the Classroom Activity andPerformance Task components of the 11th grade M-STEP are optionalfor high schools. While there are some benefits to administeringthese components, they will not be required. There will be noaccountability penalty in terms of participation or scoring for highschools that choose to not administer the classroom activities andperformance tasks. This does not apply to the classroom activitiesand performance tasks in grades 3 through 8 — those are required.

Anyone want to opt out? Here is an article about some strategies.
Also, you can find some local resources (people!) at the Facebook page, Ann Arbor STOP: Stop Overtesting.

Consider subscribing to Ann Arbor Schools Musings by Email!

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