Michigan should create a center to identify, replicate and scale best practices in K-12 education to improve academic performance across the state. This entity will:
- Identify, evaluate, disseminate and incentivize the adoption of best practices utilizing the expertise of educators, academic researchers, and other subject matter experts in Michigan and nationwide. Foster and promote conditions to ensure a system of support for effective use of best practices in Michigan’s diverse school/district contexts.
- When fully implemented, focus on three (3) to six (6) projects reflecting the current priorities for student achievement to research, scale and/or replicate best practices. Each project’s manager will work with ISDs, LEAs, individual school districts, associations and others to identify effective methods within Michigan, as well as those outside of Michigan.
District plans are multi-year strategic improvement documents (updated annually)-not an itemized inventory of services and expenditures. At a minimum, all districts must incorporate the following into their district plans:
- Description of how the plan will deliver progress toward the state’s six priority areas.
- Description of how the district’s MICIP responds and aligns with the needs of students.
- Transparent and accessible information describing how early progress will be demonstrated.
- Description of how strategic spending will support that early progress.
- Student growth targets and a description of how strategic investments will support students to meet those targets.
District plans are strategic spending plans, outlining how additional dollars (via an adequate and new weighted funding formula) would impact the state’s key priority areas. These plans would exist primarily to provide transparency to the public using common statewide templates on how new resources are being spent. Additionally, they would serve as strategic improvement plans for local district and school staff.
District plans should be simple, transparent and readable and involve parents, community, and educators.
- District plans must be completed and submitted in a timely fashion as a condition of receiving state aid.
- In addition to being submitted to the office of School Quality and Equity, the Governor’s Executive Office, as well as the Chairperson of the House and Senate Appropriations and chairs of Ed committees, are to receive a copy of district plans.
We should expand the current partnership model to schools that do not make progress after realizing additional and more equitable resources from the state, as our primary model of intervention for chronically low-performing schools.
MDE and regional entities should be funded to provide the appropriate level of additional staff including field expertise.
Partnership grants should be conditional on the remittance of required data.
Any partnership agreements should be subject to additional mandates such as state-funded and MDE approved curriculum, state-provided aligned assessments, and professional development to ensure that partnership schools have educational fundamentals covered and have agreed-upon best practices, as needed.
School districts that exceed state improvement targets will transition to a less rigorous district planning requirement, and prescriptive resources will no longer have to align with the state’s menu of strategies and priority areas.
Statutory and/or civil service changes should be made in order for educators to be recruited to work at MDE without a resulting loss of their MPSERS or comparable benefit.
Roadmap for an ideal “future state” of our Department of Education (approved by Accountability Workgroup on 4/17/19):
- Following a systemic and embraced (by local districts, legislators, and the public) reset of the Department’s role, mission, relationship to student, school and district performance, empowered, resourced, and assigned responsibility for accountability:
- Michigan has the preeminent department of education in the country for research and supporting the implementation of best in class, evidence-based practice.
- The Governor and legislature consult with, support, and hold the department of education accountable for research and analysis on the most effective strategies and practices in the U.S. and the world.
- Michigan has implemented a consistent, and coherent accountability system supported by evidence-based policies and strategies to ensure every student graduates and is prepared for post-secondary success.
Support for an office of quality and equity housed in the MDE as the administrator of a clear scope of accountability work including:
- Using the enhanced partnership model to support schools that have failed to improve even in the context of new resources, potentially expanding beyond those who are subject to federally mandated interventions (bottom 5%).
- Provide support to district planning efforts in an equitable fashion and with appropriate access to expertise, templates, and toolkits,
- Use ISD’s or other regional entities as field partners when their capacity and expertise align with state objectives.
Assuming an equitable deployment of additional funding, schools that have not shown growth after 3-5 years based on benchmarks aligned with our state school report card, will be subject to a partnership model.
We believe this office should receive appropriate and adequate funding to fulfill these roles with fidelity.
We believe this office should report to MDE in order to not create duplicative processes or staff functions.
In order to dramatically improve student academic outcomes and recognizing that we spend less per pupil than top-performing states, more monies are needed in classrooms and school buildings across the state, in concert with SFRC findings.
To generate needed funds, we will use a balanced approach that includes: more equitably redistributing existing resources, identifying and eliminating structural inefficiencies, and securing new revenue.
School funding must be strategically, adequately, and equitably allocated based on research-based best practices to ensure a strong return on taxpayer investments, while ensuring there is flexibility for districts to respond to local needs that align with top priority areas.
We believe that research clearly demonstrates that we need a weighted school funding formula that prioritizes equity, adequacy, and effectiveness. In concert with SFRC recommendations, we must use this approach for all publicly funded schools and make strategic, evidence-based investments in students with the greatest need.
While recognizing the many efficiencies that local districts and buildings have pursued over the last decade, where possible, we must act to further redirect and strategically target existing resources towards teaching and learning by pursuing structural changes and greater efficiencies.
With careful consideration to process and timing, we should identify and redirect inefficient categorical funding to support the distribution of additional per-pupil weights based on student need; holding any district harmless that would receive less than the status quo.
Recognizing our goals include the creation of a more adequate and equitable funding system, our next phase is to build our new revenue strategy and support a reliable accountability system by engaging the legislature and the voters.
We agree that the six priority areas that have been vetted in the accountability and finance task force align with Launch Michigan’s overall objectives of rapid improvement, closing gaps and preparing graduates, and are comprehensive: Student Achievement; Educator Sustainability and Quality; Social, Emotional and Physical Well-being; Post High School Readiness; Conditions of Learning; and Closing Equity Gaps.
We agree that we must prioritize the work and focus on actions that have a greater probability of demonstrating sustainable results in a short period of time and which will build momentum and support for long term action.
As we implement a more adequate and equitable funding strategy that will close equity gaps, we should focus on priority areas of student achievement and educator sustainability and quality first. In particular, we need to make significant, strategic, and effective investments in evidence-based strategies to improve literacy outcomes and teacher recruitment and retention, especially in response to the teacher shortage crisis, which is particularly acute in schools with the greatest needs.
We support the creation of a roadmap of phased work according to our priority areas, as part of a long term, multi-year strategic investment plan that transcends political changes.
Maintain the broad structure of Michigan’s current evaluation system and work within that framework to address shortcomings.
Build capacity among teacher evaluators through additional state-funded training and provide greater specificity around what training evaluators need to ensure consistency and quality.
Build capacity among the teachers and other educators being evaluated through better quality, state-funded training on the evaluation process and professional development linked to evaluation results.
Ensure all P-3 students and educators have access to the best available learning and teaching materials in early literacy by identifying high-quality curriculum and instructional materials that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards through a diverse panel of experts and key stakeholders. Through a competitive grant program that prioritizes equity and effectiveness, incentivize the adoption of the identified top-ranked materials through financial support and support to districts for implementation, including professional development for educators and parent communications. Over time, expand financial and implementation supports to all districts.
Ensure that every P-3 educator receives coherent professional learning, support and feedback aligned to research-based instructional best practices in literacy through training of all P-3 educators in research-based literacy instruction practices and providing on-going supports and coaching. Monitor professional development providers for impact on educator practice. Expand training on research-based instructional practices in literacy to be delivered to pre-service educators, early childhood professionals, and educators in grades 4-12.
Invest in effective, evidence-based coaching models and delivery systems to expand access to instructional coaching for P-3 educators, beginning with a competitive grant program that prioritizes equity and effectiveness. Ensure consistent coaching quality through standard, rigorous criteria for coach selection, as well as ongoing coach feedback, professional development and accountability to impact educator practice. Develop multiple performance-based pathways for becoming a coach, including full-time district-level positions and hybrid “teacher leader” coaching positions for classroom educators.
Early literacy begins well before kindergarten. Support effective P-3 implementation by moving to universal access to high-quality preschool for 4-year-olds; establishing grant-funding for communities to strengthen P-3 alignment locally; developing and maintaining common data systems for P-12 education; supporting effective statewide implementation of the Michigan Kindergarten Entry Observation; and monitoring progress toward literacy through public reporting on kindergarten preparedness.