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Education Achievement Authority says tests show student progress

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The Education Achievement Authority says new data show students in that school district are making progress.

The EAA is a state-run district for the lowest-performing schools. It launched just this school year with 15 former Detroit public schools.

The district gave all students a Scantron Performance Series benchmark test at the start of the year, to establish baseline skill levels. Students in grades 2-9 were just tested again in late January and early February.

Results show that 27% of students have made what the district counts as one year’s worth of progress in just a few months. 22% have made the same level of progress in math.

Overall, the district says 48% of students are “on track” to achieve at least that much progress in reading, and 43% in math, by the end of the school year.

EAA Chancellor John Covington says in the district’s eyes, those numbers equal success.

“It takes time for all of us to learn this new way of doing things,” Covington said. “And so with that being true, we were thinking at least 50% [making grade-level progress] in the first year. And we’re getting pretty close to that.”

Covington says these results show the EAA computer-based curriculum of “student-centered learning”-- based on “meeting students where they are" at “instructional levels” rather than typical grades--can help even the lowest-performing students improve.

This is the first real batch of data to come out of the EAA.

MEAP tests for grades K-9, administered last fall, showed “minimal proficiency levels,” Covington said. High school students won’t be tested until March.

The state’s attempt to create a “recovery district” for Michigan’s lowest-performing has been controversial for various reasons.

Many are leery of the idea of the state seizing locally-controlled schools—especially Detroit Public Schools, which have a troubled history of state intervention.

The district isn’t currently operating under state law, but rather an interlocal agreement between the Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University.

Governor Snyder says codifying the district into state law—and expanding its reach statewide—is one of his priorities for this legislative term. An effort to do so in last year’s lame duck session failed.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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