Contents of this issue:
  • MME scores improve slightly in most subjects
  • Michigan residents want teacher benefit reform
  • California court overturns ruling on homeschooling
  • United Way starts program to curb dropout rates
  • State to hold hearing on special education changes

MME SCORES IMPROVE SLIGHTLY IN MOST SUBJECTS
LANSING, Mich. — Students showed slight increases in reading, writing and science scores in the second year of the Michigan Merit Exam, which includes the ACT, but more than half failed the mathematics section, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Sixty-two percent of students passed the reading section, compared to 60 percent last year. In writing, 41 percent of students passed. That is up from 40 percent last year. The passing rate on the science test also increased one percentage point, to 57 percent. Performance in math was stagnant with a 46 percent passing rate. There was a drop in performance on the social studies test; 80 percent of students passed, down from 83 percent last year, the Free Press reported.

The average composite score on the ACT remained the same, at 18.8, according to the Free Press.

"The MME, with the inclusion of the ACT, is a rigorous test and all students have to be prepared with the knowledge to excel," State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement, according to the Free Press. "As the requirements of the new high school curriculum continue to be implemented, we expect to see students' scores improve."

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "State's reading scores go up, more than half fail math," Aug. 7, 2008
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080807/NEWS06/ 80807035/1008

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action," May 6, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9457


MICHIGAN RESIDENTS WANT TEACHER BENEFIT REFORM
DETROIT — A phone survey commissioned by Detroit Renaissance shows that Michiganders support sweeping reform to improve the state, including reforming benefits for state employees and public school teachers, according to The Detroit News.

"Hopefully, we are reaching a point where we can drive change simply by tapping into the anger of people who don't want to live like this anymore," Renaissance board Chairman David Brandon told The News. "If people don't listen to these findings, I don't know what they'll listen to."

The Michigan Priorities Survey found that about 75 percent of those polled would support increasing health care premiums for state employees. Currently, state employees pay between 5 and 10 percent of their premiums, compared to private-sector employees who usually pay between 16 and 28 percent of their own health insurance premiums, The News reported.

Additionally, about 74 percent support an overhaul of retirement benefits for teachers. Michigan teachers receive a defined pension, which requires districts to pay a specific amount each year. Citizens called for a 401(k)-type system for new teachers, according to The News.

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "Survey: Reform state now," Aug. 7, 2008
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008808070377

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Growing number of districts seek solutions to costly health insurance" Dec. 15, 2005
http://www.educationreport.org/7479


CALIFORNIA COURT OVERTURNS RULING ON HOMESCHOOLING
LOS ANGELES — A California state appellate court has ruled that parents are allowed to educate their own children, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The court previously ruled that parents could not oversee their child's education unless they had a teaching certificate. California has an estimated 166,000 home-school students. Before the previous ruling, the State Department of Education had allowed homeschooling and left enforcement of certain policies to local districts, the Times reported.

SOURCE:
Los Angeles Times, "Court says parents may operate home-schools," Aug 8, 2008
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thehomeroom/2008/08/court-says-pare.html

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Home Schooling: An 'Encouraging and Robust' Movement," May 24, 2004
http://www.mackinac.org/6653

UNITED WAY STARTS PROGRAM TO CURB DROPOUT RATES
DETROIT — The United Way of Southeastern Michigan has launched a $10 million initiative to reduce high school dropout rates for the Detroit-area, according to The Detroit News.

The fund will support efforts in high schools with dropout rates of 40 percent or higher. Schools in Detroit, Hazel Park, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Allen Park, Pontiac, River Rouge, Ecorse, Redford, Hamtramck and Eastpointe will participate. It was triggered by a $1 million donation from AT&T Michigan, and the fund has already reached $4 million.

"We have an urgent need in Michigan, and this shows foresight and community planning along with philanthropic organizations," Detroit Superintendent Connie Calloway told The News. "We've been working together for 13 months and I think this is a magnificent opportunity."

SOURCE:
The Detroit News, "United Way plans $10M initiative to curb Detroit-area dropout rates," Aug. 6, 2008
http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080806/METRO/808060301/ 1005/LIFESTYLE

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "Michigan ranks last in graduating black males," July 29, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9703


STATE TO HOLD HEARING ON SPECIAL EDUCATION CHANGES
LANSING, Mich. — A legislative hearing will determine whether proposed changes to special education rules will be implemented, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will hear testimony regarding the Michigan Department of Education's list of proposed changes to special education programming throughout the state. Parents are particularly outraged at the elimination of an extended school year of 230 days for students with severe disabilities. More than 600 people registered in opposition to the change, the Free Press reported.

If the committee doesn't take action, the rules may become official the next time the House and Senate meet in session on the same day, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Special education hearing set for Wednesday," Aug. 11, 2008
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080811/NEWS06/ 808110374

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Legislators take up special ed rules," Aug. 11, 2008
http://www.educationreport.org/9717


MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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