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Michigan improves special education performance rating, but still needs improvement

Empty classroom
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
3rd floor classroom of Detroit Redeemer High School

The United States Department of Education says the state has improved outcomes for students with special education needs, but it still has work to do.

The Department of Education ranked Michigan public schools on their special education performance. Scores are based on standardized tests, graduation rates, and drop-out rates. The report says Michigan schools "need assistance." The ranking is better than "needs intervention," which Michigan schools received in past years. The highest ranking is "meets requirements."

Scott Koenigsknecht is Michigan's Deputy State Superintendent.

"We're looking at, potentially, additional pathways to a diploma. Also, looking at how can we stem the dropout rate," he said. "And in Michigan, with one way to a diploma, I think some students get discouraged, and therefore drop out."

Overall, the ranking is the highest the state has had since it started. In 2014, the federal government moved to the new system in which a score is made 50% based on "results" and 50% based on "compliance." The results are based on graduation rates, dropout rates, M-STEP participation, and NAEP results and participation. Compliance has to do with the state being timely with requirments and the disparities amoung racial and ethnic groups in schools. Koenigsknecht says there is still a long way to go.

State officials say a committee and work groups are finding ways to continue these improvements.

Michigan wants to become a top 10 state in the country for education in the next 10 years. In a press release the state says:

Top 10 education state in 10 years is designed to better support Intermediate School Districts to address local school district improvements. This evolving partnership between MDE and each ISD as a subrecipient of the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant funds further ensures the alignment and coordination that evidence-based practices are implemented and supported in local districts.

In order to achieve that goal officials say they have outlined forty-four strategies. Koenigsknecht says he looks at the state’s plan from the lens of a student with a disability - how it affects the student from a systemic view.

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