The Michigan Department of Education made several errors when reviewing Albion High School’s Reform and Redesign Plan late last year, but district has been assured things are back on track.
On Dec. 13, 2010, the district received notice from the state that it needed to change four items associated with three different core areas of its plan in order for it to be reconsidered for approval.
However, Calhoun County Intermediate School District officials and the Albion administration discovered that two of the four items that needed amended received dual ratings of “yes” and “no” in the MDE’s evaluation of the plan.
State Officer for School Reform and Design Mary Alice Galloway admitted “multiple reader errors were made.” She said the district could disregard changes mandated in the section titled “Develop and Increase School Leader and Teacher Effectiveness” and only minor changes were required in “Comprehensive Instructional Reform Strategies” and “Increasing Learning Time and Mechanism for Community Oriented Schools.”
Superintendent Fred Clarke said Galloway and the MDE are helping them make the necessary revisions prior to the Jan. 21 deadline. Still, he said it was frustrating to discover errors were made reviewing a plan the district spent so many hours on, especially when he looked at the MDE website and found other district plans that were approved with similar language.
“We did go through and look at several of the Phase I approved plans and our plans were comparable with some of those and the language we used was similar to ones that were approved then, but now this time it wasn’t approved — so it is what it is,” he said.
Galloway said the plans get looked at by a wide variety of reviewers from “educators to MDE employees to people from universities” who are familiar with the school improvement processes.
“We give all of our reviewers what the requirements are ahead of time; in other words (we tell them) if a plan has to replace a principal, if a plan has to put in a teacher evaluation model and we have a document that lists what all those requirements are,” she said.
Galloway said the MDE has been working on reviewing 92 plans this year, one for each district that was identified as one of the state’s Persistently Lowest Achieving.
Once the plan is approved the administration’s focus will turn to the state’s Feb. 25 deadline for school improvement grants, which are funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
Clarke said there are about 67 schools competing for $28 million in funding that will likely be awarded to five to nine schools.
“We have a very good product, and we just need to find more grants and money to help fund this plan,” he said.