Contents of this issue:
  • Metro Detroit charter school growing, moving

  • District, federal college enrollment stats differ

  • DPS students leave rather than relocate

  • Michigan science scores on NAEP above national average

  • Brighton teachers pay more for expensive MESSA

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Great Oaks Academy has to find a new home in anticipation of doubling its enrollment, according to The Macomb Daily.

The public charter school, with 300 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, expects to add another 300 students and expand to eighth grade by 2008, The Daily reported. The school purchased the former St. Mark's Catholic School in Warren and will open there in the fall. Great Oaks is chartered by Bay Mills Community College and run by National Heritage Academies of Grand Rapids.

The school has been occupying the former St. Vincent Ferrer school in Madison Heights for two years, according to The Daily. The move to a bigger facility will allow the public school to offer special education services, separate art and music rooms, a larger library and a gym, The Daily reported.

About 35 percent of the students live in Madison Heights, according to The Daily, while others live as many as 40 miles away. The new location is about five miles east, in Warren, from the previous location, and will mean a longer drive for some families.

"Sometimes we have to sacrifice some things to get a better education," Harrison Township resident Lisa Ip, whose son Victor attends the school, told The Daily.

The Macomb Daily, "Charter school to move from Madison Heights to Warren," May 18, 2006

Michigan Education Report, "State charter schools see enrollment increases," March 7, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "MEA loses lawsuit against public schools," March 7, 2006

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The number of graduating seniors who go on to college may be much lower than the number high schools claim, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The Gazette cites the National Center for Education Statistics, which reports that about two-thirds of high school graduates enroll in college, while many high schools boast that 80 percent or more of their graduates seek post-secondary degrees.

High schools in Kalamazoo, Comstock, Portage and Paw Paw, for example, say 80 to 90 percent of the class of 2006 plan on attending college, according to the Gazette. The difference can be caused by several things, including financial difficulties or other life changes, students saying they plan to enroll in community college who do not, and others who are accepted at four-year schools but do not go, the Gazette reported.

Tim Bartik, president of the Kalamazoo board of education and an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said the differences between the NCES numbers and the schools' figures is cause for concern.

"We're doing a lot to hold schools accountable to (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) results, but this is even more directly related to outcomes than the MEAP," Bartik told the Gazette.

Bartik added that vocational-education programs are required by law to follow up on graduates a year after graduation.

"If voc-tech can figure out a way to do it, you would think other people could," he told the Gazette.

Kalamazoo Gazette, "College-bound student numbers often inflated by school surveys," May 21, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Parent Trap," July 1, 2005

Michigan Education Report, "K-Promise: A whole new environment for Kalamazoo," March 7, 2006

DETROIT — When Detroit Public Schools closed 29 schools last year, about 1,500 students left the district, rather than accept being assigned to a different building, according to The Detroit News.

Overall, 11,600 students left DPS between the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2005, The News reported. The district plans to close another seven schools this fall.

Almost half the students from Yost Academy, one of the schools DPS closed last year, left the district, according to The News. Yost was 40 years old and students there met federal testing standards, The News reported.

"I'm glad I made the move," parent Delores Thomas, whose daughter now attends a charter school in Southfield, told The News. "Detroit has done its job in the past, but there's no stability."

The Detroit News, "Closures drive away 1,500 pupils," May 26, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Detroit Public Schools enrollment drops again," Nov. 29, 2005

Michigan Education Digest, "Independent school growing in Metro Detroit," April 4, 2006

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's fourth and eighth graders scored better than the national averages of their counterparts across the country on the science portion of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to Booth Newspapers.

On a scale of zero to 300, Michigan fourth graders averaged 152, compared to the national average of 149. Michigan eighth graders scored 155, also above the national average of 147, Booth reported. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 32 percent of fourth graders and 35 percent of eighth graders were "proficient" on the 2005 science test.

Nationwide, high school seniors scored about the same in 2005 as they did in 2000, but 12th graders also were the only group to see a drop in scores over a 10-year time frame, according to Booth.

"It's perplexing," Darvin Winick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, told the Associated Press. "Almost everybody is on the high school reform bandwagon now, and all this report should do is fuel that fire a little more."

Booth Newspapers, "Michigan science scores compare favorably with national average," May 24, 2006 storylist=newsmichigan

National Center for Education Statistics, "State Profiles," 2005

Michigan Education Report, "Report: Michigan schools above average in test scores, below in teacher quality," Feb. 15, 2002

Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan students average; black students lagging," Oct. 25, 2005

BRIGHTON, Mich. — Brighton teachers will pay higher deductibles to purchase a more expensive health insurance option offered through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The teachers will pay $520 retroactively for this school year, and $620 next year, the Press & Argus reported. That cost will increase to $720 in the third year, but teachers who opt for a less costly MESSA plan will only pay $360. MESSA is a third-party administrator associated with the Michigan Education Association. The district predicts it will save about $580,000 by teachers opting for the less expensive insurance. That money will be given back to teachers through a 2.25 percent raise each of the three contract years, the Press & Argus reported.

"From the field of possibilities that could have been done, this was the most doable compromise we could have," interim Superintendent John Hansen told the newspaper.

The agreement also would prevent the school district from taking disciplinary action against teachers who participated in what officials believe was an intentional sick-out May 5 that forced two schools to close, according to the Press & Argus.

"There are pills to swallow on both sides," Barry Goode, president of the Brighton Education Association, told the Press & Argus. "The perfect deal for either side doesn't exist because their interests aren't the same."

Livingston Daily Press & Argus, "No savings with new contract," May 26, 2006

Michigan Education Digest, "Brighton 'sick-out' draws parent response," May 16, 2006

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "MESSA Reference Page," March 10, 2006

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper with a circulation of nearly 150,000 published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Ted O'Neil at

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