Will Every Michigan Student Succeed?
As the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) continues taking public comment on its plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a nonpartisan education policy and advocacy organization is weighing in on the state’s plan.
Last week, The Education Trust-Midwest shared Becoming Top Ten: An Analysis of Michigan’s ESSA Plan, highlighting promising aspects of the plan and calling for some changes before the MDE submits its final draft to the U.S. Department of Education on April 3.
As CMF reported in February, MDE’s plan includes many changes, three highlights include:
- Rating schools on an A through F grading system based on several school accountability factors.
- Providing a transparency dashboard for parents to view data on access/equity, educator engagement, school culture and more.
- Reducing overall testing time, switching to measuring growth with benchmark testing throughout the year. As MLive reports, the M-STEP would go from an annual test for grades 3-8 to a one-time test in elementary school and middle school.
The Education Trust-Midwest praised the MDE’s proposed accountability system, noting that research shows “states with strong school accountability systems often see the largest progress for academic achievement,” especially for underserved students.
However, the organization said school accountability relies on data and the state’s plan would scale back our current state assessment, the M-STEP, and limit Michigan's ability to gauge where our state’s education stands or how it stacks up to the rest of the country.
As CMF shared last summer, The Education Trust-Midwest says the M-STEP fully measures our high academic standards, is nationally benchmarked and provides comparable data with more than a dozen other states.
Just last month new analysis, using M-STEP data was released showing Michigan test scores have made the least improvement in the country since 2003.
The MDE says the state’s proposed ESSA plan would reduce overall testing, shifting from a test given annually to multiple assessments during the year allowing for immediate feedback and individual goal-setting for students.
The Education Trust-Midwest said while the A through F school grading system will offer parents and stakeholders clear information, the organization says with Michigan lagging the rest of the county, about half of our schools projected to earn an A or B rating wouldn’t necessarily earn the same rating in another state.
The analysis calls for the state to set higher standards for the state’s long-term goals “signaling that half of schools are doing just fine doesn’t create the urgency to improve – especially in a state that’s far behind the nation.”
The Education Trust-Midwest’s recommendations for Michigan’s ESSA plan include:
- Keep the current testing model (M-STEP), noting “research recommends at least three years of the same assessment data prior to making any high-stakes decisions for schools.”
- School districts should receive individual ratings as schools will under the plan, since districts are key to staffing, professional development, budgets and curriculum.
- A strong educator evaluation system and strategies for linking vulnerable students with the best educators.
- The transparency dashboard should also include per-pupil spending, access to high quality educators in high and low-poverty districts, discipline data, early childhood program access, advanced coursework completion and postsecondary success.
Michigan’s ESSA plan states, “Our key goal is to reduce the negative impact high risk factors play in impeding access to a quality education — factors like poverty and a lack of equitable resources.”
Public comments on MDE’s ESSA plan may be submitted online or via mail until March 16.
Once the plan is submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, the ESSA will go into effect this fall.
Check out MDE’s ESSA Plan.
Governor Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission’s report is due out sometime this month, when its released CMF will share its recommendations.
Racial Disparity Data At-Risk
Federal funding and support for the gathering and access of geospatial (location-based) data on racial disparities in a community or racial disparities in access to affordable housing is now at-risk due to legislation introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.
The Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 is aimed at rolling back a fair housing regulation put in place in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Obama administration to provide federal funding to cities to examine their housing patterns and identify any racial bias. The new legislation would eliminate the regulation and the federal funding, design and implementation of any location-based racial disparity data.
The National Equity Atlas, a data tool developed by PolicyLink, explains why geospatial data on racial disparities is important, noting:
- People who live in high-poverty neighborhoods have less access to jobs, services, high-quality education, parks, safe streets, which are integral parts of equitable and successful communities.
- “People of color are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to live in high-poverty neighborhoods, even if they themselves are not poor.”
The National Equity Atlas’ Michigan data:
- Latest data shows 3.75 percent of white people live in high poverty neighborhoods
- 31.5 percent of the African American population in Michigan lives in high poverty neighborhoods
The National Low Income Housing Commission has also spoken out against the legislation.
“This bill undermines the goals of the Fair Housing Act by making it more difficult for communities to remedy racial segregation on the local level and ensure families have the opportunity to move to the neighborhood of their choice,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO, National Low Income Housing Commission said.
Racial disparity data has great value for the social sector as a tool to help marginalized communities. As Fortune reports, Google’s philanthropic arm recently gave $11.5 million in grants to organizations using data to find solutions for racial disparities in our criminal justice system.
Data Drive Detroit (D3) recently shared a blog on the issues stemming from the proposed legislation, stating in part, “we urge you to think about that shared vision we’ve embraced as a country – equal access to opportunity – and in particular, how critical data can be in making that vision a reality.”
Philanthropy can advocate for this data by sharing the importance of data in increasing our impact and helping our most vulnerable communities with lawmakers and the public. As CMF highlighted in January, everyone can advocate but not everyone can lobby, the rules are different for public and private foundations, they're outlined in the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook.
Check out the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook.
There’s still time to join us for Foundations on the Hill this month as we meet face-to-face with our Michigan lawmakers to discuss issues of importance to philanthropy.
Wanted: Detroit Workforce Growth
Across the state, there are public-private partnerships working to create economic growth and connect Michiganders with job opportunities. We know Michigan has made significant gains since its post-recession unemployment rate of 14.9 percent in 2009.
However, in Detroit it’s a different story, as the city has the highest unemployment rate in our state, at 9.8 percent.
Growing Detroit’s workforce remains a challenge for the region. The city is even seeing lower numbers of people in skilled trades, as The Detroit News reports in a city of 700,000 people there are only 58 licensed plumbers and a few electricians.
JPMorgan Chase, a CMF member, committed $100 million to the city’s economic recovery and last year that support led to the publication of two Detroit workforce mapping reports, highlighting barriers to job growth in the Motor City and partnerships at play.
Barriers in the report included:
- There are only enough jobs to employ about 37 percent of the population.
- About 62 percent of Detroiters (ages 16-64) are in the workforce, statewide that number is 72 percent.
- There’s a disconnect between the skills and education level and the jobs available.
- There’s a low number of entry-level jobs available in the city, forcing workers to commute for low wage jobs.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan addressed the workforce issue at his State of the City address last month saying more must be done to connect Detroiters into the workforce pipeline. During his speech, Duggan announced the launch of a new workforce initiative, Detroit At Work, a website to help people find job training, jobs, assistance and career services.
Several CMF members continue working to connect Detroiters with job opportunities. A few examples include:
- JPMorgan Chase continues its work in Detroit, as it recently announced it’s offering a yearlong leadership development academy to 22 workforce training professionals from nonprofits to city workers.
- The Michigan Women’s Foundation is hosting entrepreneurship conferences in Troy and other locations in March.
- Several CMF members, including The Skillman Foundation, help to fund Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, a summer youth employment program. Last year the program linked more than 8,000 Detroit youth with summer jobs. Enrollment for this summer is currently underway.
- Ford Motor Company Fund supported the opening of a second resource center in Detroit that offers job training and continued education, among other services.
- Ralph C. Wilson Foundation recently awarded a grant to TechHire to help connect Detroiters with the tech industry through IT training.
- McGregor Fund supports several programs that focus on skill building, career readiness and training for teens and adults.
Through supporting entrepreneurship, linking people with job training and connecting Detroit’s youth with career-readiness opportunities, philanthropy is working to build Detroit’s workforce, equipping Detroiters with the skills and support they need.
CMF members will discuss the issue and hear from the director of Detroit’s Workforce Development Board at the upcoming InFocus Southeast Michigan event, Addressing Workforce Development on March 14.
Register for Addressing Workforce Development.
Connect with the Michigan Workforce Development Agency.
R.E. Olds Foundation supports innovative approaches to engage youth in STEM
A mobile technology learning platform is on the road in Lansing, thanks to support from the R.E. Olds Foundation. The foundation was one of the seed funders for the TechTransport Bus, which takes robotics, digital media, game design, animation programming, web and app development classes to Lansing-area students.
The bus is intended to bring technology to local students who may have limited internet access at home. The program expands Information Technology Empowerment Center’s (ITEC) reach, offering a variety of classes and learning opportunities including college readiness workshops, after-school tutoring, entrepreneurship classes, a space for field trips and more.
R.E. Olds Foundation also recently awarded a grant for another program to launch a new think tank at Impression 5 Science Center for young children to engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects. The space is filled with real tools, supplies and a nook for brainstorming, encouraging kids to explore STEM. It’s open to school groups and the public.