Archive | September 2013

Michigan Preschool Enrollments Rising

An enrollment increase of over 16,000 4-year-olds in preschool programs across Michigan has come as a result of expanded funding for the initiative. The state dedicated additional funds of potentially $65 million to the Great Start Readiness Program, making it one of the nation’s largest preschool programs available to low-income families.

The increased funding puts Governor Snyder and the legislature in line with President Obama’s vision for expanded, possibly universal preschool. The issue has inevitably become highly politicized as critics from the right and left have argued over the dedication of large sums of federal funds for the early schooling. Most sound research, though, points to modest positive academic gains as a result of high-quality preschool programs. The question then becomes: How do we effectively use the available resources to achieve positive results on a large scale?

Michigan connection: one of the most often cited examples of preschool’s effectiveness is the Highscope Perry Preschool Study, which studied the effects of a highly intensive program in the 1970’s in Ypsilanti. Unfortunately, though the program is put forth as conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of preschool programs, any large-scale implementation in today’s schools would not likely be nearly as intensive or well-funded.

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Teacher Evaluation and Merit Pay Up For Debate

Debate will begin Wednesday in a joint meeting of the state House and Senate education committees on the issue of Michigan’s teacher evaluation system. At the center of the debate is a report (PDF) issued earlier this year by the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness, which outlines proposed evaluation strategies for districts.

I’ll once again applaud Michigan’s practical restraint in tackling the overhaul of teacher evaluation. Though some lawmakers have attempted a hard-line approach, tying teacher pay to test scores has not yet been implemented as a false panacea as has been the case in other states. My home state, for example, took the idea and ran with it, despite criticism from the architect of the evaluation model. Time will tell of the unintended consequences of placing so much at stake on so few points of measurement.

By contrast, Michigan has seemingly embraced the evaluation changes with an honest motivation of improving student achievement. As long as the legislators continue to listen in good faith to the concerns of educators, we may stay avoid disastrous outcomes.

From the Annals of Common Sense – Later HS Start Times Advocated

Not a very hard-hitting or controversial topic here, but good to see that MLive picked up on Duncan and Flanagan’s endorsements of later start times for high school students. You don’t need to be a social scientist (though studies exist) to know that teenagers need more sleep to function and are not entirely active and attentive in the early hours of the morning.

The only thing that remains to be seen is how higher authorities can compel districts to set later start times. 

“…a way to broaden knowledge without leaving the building.”

WILX 10 had a good general interest piece on the rise of online learning in the state of Michigan and the different methods in which it is implemented. Definitely worth a quick view.