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SBE Reviews A-F System Cut Score Recommendations

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Nov. 13, 2019

The State Board of Education spent a significant amount of its Nov. 12, 2019 meeting reviewing the recommended cut scores for the roll-out of the A-F grading system that was passed by the Legislature during the December 2018 lame duck session.

Public Act 601 of 2018 requires that schools be assigned grades and labels in categories such as attendance, assessment participation, graduation rates and others. The Legislature’s intent was to provide parents looking at a school or district with measurements to consider in their assessment even though a Parent Transparency Dashboard that aligns with the requirements of the federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, has been available for quite some time.

The A-F system was originally supposed to be in place by this past September, but the Legislature granted a delayed implementation of March 2020 so the Michigan Department of Education could consult with the U.S. Department of Education on the requirements. MDE will be maintaining both systems in order to comply with state and federal laws.

MDE consulted an independent facilitator, the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, along with a committee of practitioners in developing the recommended cut scores, which are heavily based on data that correlates to each of the categories.

The SBE reviewed and approved cut scores in the categories of:

  • On-track attendance
  • Assessment participation (as amended)
  • English Learner Progress

It reviewed but did not vote on the following due to time constraints. They will be revisited at the SBE’s Dec. 10 meeting:

  • Proficiency
  • Growth
  • Comparison to Similar Schools

Additionally, the majority of board members abstained from voting on:

  • Subgroup comparison
  • Graduation rate

Overall, the recommended cut scores placed at least half of the schools in the state either in the A/B rankings or above/significantly above average in a majority of the categories.

There were strong feelings, particularly from Vice President Pamela Pugh and Treasurer Tom McMillin that these measurements are not reflective of what schools are truly doing.

In explaining her abstentions from the votes Ms. Pugh noted, “I don’t want to own any of this. The Department is to be commended for not rushing through [this implementation] and I understand why they have to do what they have to do, but it is based on senseless measures that victimize victims and perpetuates racism and classism; it’s not good science.”

Given the requirements of the state law, MDE will have to implement the system with or without the SBE’s approval by March 2020. MDE will continue to involve the board as it moves ahead, including further discussion at its next meeting in December.

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