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The Impact of the New Michigan Merit Curriculum on At-Risk and Special Education Students

The Impact of the New Michigan Merit Curriculum on At-Risk and Special Education Students

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The Impact of the New Michigan Merit Curriculum on At-Risk and Special Education Students

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  1. The Impact of the New Michigan Merit Curriculum on At-Risk and Special Education Students Derrick Fries, Ph.D. Eastern Michigan University Spring/Summer 2007

  2. The New Michigan Merit Curriculum The MDE Thesis: Raising the mandated state graduation requirements from .5 credits to 16 will assist in economic growth and increase academic standards. Academic standards in NCLB, MEAP and ACT, along with graduation rates will improve.

  3. The Researcher’s Thesis By the elimination of local school district core graduation requirements, test scores will suffer and graduation rates will fall. The two groups impacting these potential consequences will be special education students and students at-risk. *About the researcher: Since 1974, has done every job in K-12 public schools from bus driver to Superintendent.

  4. Conflicting Theories MDE = 16 Mandated Credits will improve test scores and graduation rates and employability. VS The Critical Thesis Question = 16 Mandated Credits will lower test scores, decrease graduation rates and not adversely affect employability.

  5. The Political Winds of Reform The Northwest Breeze Over the Great Lakes • Only two other states besides Michigan have a .5 credit graduation requirement. • The Michigan based economy goes cold. • Politicians and law makers use the increase in graduation requirements as a political reform with little opposition. • Most educational groups and associations around the state endorse the MMC reform.

  6. The Missing Data Link Michigan High School Data Information • In 2006, the average state total graduation credit requirement is 22.6. • Approximately 15% of Michigan’s graduating seniors graduate with a GPA less than 2.0. • The total number of special ed students and students at-risk is growing in the state of Michigan. • Therefore ???????????????

  7. Where Have the C’s Gone Impressions from the focus groups may suggest that we have a lot less C students (cumulative GPA) in Michigan high schools. Therefore, the well intended political MMC reform may be missing its intended target.

  8. Survey Fact #1 Most of Michigan’s graduating high school seniors are driven to meet college requirements that greatly exceed MMC standards.

  9. Survey Fact #2 The group of Michigan High School students most affected by MMC are at-risk and special education students.

  10. Survey Fact #3 The majority of survey respondents expressed great concern about vocational school attendance under the new MMC reform.

  11. EMU Research Design • Phase I • Distribution of 1000 email surveys to 527 Michigan School District Administrators (High School Principals and Assistant Principals, Curriculum Directors, Special Education Directors, Alternative High School Principals) • Response Rate 8%

  12. EMU Research Design • Phase II • Four focus groups in Wayne, Kent, Oakland, and Eastern Upper Peninsula ISDs. • Special Ed Directors, High School Principals and Alternative Ed Principals • 90 Minute focus group questions and discussions. • 35 Focus group participants.

  13. EMU Research Design • Assimilation of quantitative email surveys and qualitative focus group responses

  14. Respondents’ Demographic Information #1 High School Student Populations Surveyed

  15. Respondents’ Demographic Information #2 • 52% of the respondents indicated special education high school percentage when compared to general education students is between 11-15%

  16. Respondents’ Demographic Information #3 Respondents Based on Geography

  17. Quantitative Survey Results #1 • 65% of the respondents indicated that graduation requirements at their high school prior to MMC was between 21-23 credits. • 90% of respondents indicated that no changes would be made to their total graduation requirements post MMC reform.

  18. Quantitative Survey Results #2 • 90% of the respondents indicated modifications in the middle school curriculum in meeting the MMC requirements. • 63% of the respondents said that elective credit offerings will decrease.

  19. Quantitative Survey Results #3 • 29% of respondents said they would be implementing a tri-semester schedule effective September 2007. • 40% of respondent districts responded a decrease in vocational education participation by the year 2011.

  20. Qualitative Survey Results #1 • 93% of the respondent districts indicated that from 2004 to 2007, alternative high school student attendance numbers has either stayed the same or increased. • 99% of the respondent school districts indicated NO additional staff would be hired to assist alternative ed and at-risk students in meeting the new MMC standards.

  21. Qualitative Survey Results #2 • 93% of respondent districts indicated that the new MMC graduation standards would decrease graduation rates.

  22. Qualitative Results #3 • 87% of the respondents report that they are going to continue providing academic support systems and resources for at-risk and special education students in the 2007-2008 school year. • 91% of the respondents are either unsure or are expecting no new support systems to be in place for the MMC reform.

  23. Focus Group Quotes • “In terms of the total number of electives, for us, it is going down by about three credits as we funnel more kids into those core areas. So our elective courses are taking the hits, so to speak.” 6/13/2007 • “We are looking at the tri-mester, but we are also looking at less electives if we don’t make that change.” 6/27/2007

  24. Focus Group Quotes • “I can tell you this, my [sister’s school] moved to tri-mesters and the staff is not happy!” 6/27/2007 • “In our particular case, we’re going to a 75 minute period, which means we gain almost 20 minutes per hour.” 6/13/2007

  25. Focus Group Quotes • “I would like to be optimistic, but I think it’s going to be very difficult for special ed kids to graduate under these terms.” 6/27/2007 • “And I just wand to emphasize not only for special ed students, but also for general ed students who may be weak or in that low average range, it’s going to be difficult for them too.” 6/27/2007 • “I think for the challenged students who are not special ed eligible, [the graduation rate] may decrease.” 6/27/2007

  26. Demographic Qualitative Impressions Focus Group Feedback • Impression #1 • Lots of frustration about how to make MMC work • Impression #2 • Lots of frustration about how to make it work with accountability standards (Federal and State) • Impression #3 • Many districts are taking on a “wait and see” attitude

  27. What Can We Expect in the Year 2011? • Five main questions for the State of Michigan: • Q1: What will graduation rates look like? • Q2: What will happen with elective offerings in high school? • Q3: What will alternative high school attendance look like? • Q4: What will the structured school day look like? • Q5: Will the 2011 MMC standards help with employability?

  28. Question #1 What will graduation rates look like in the year 2011? Contrary to the best intentions of the state, 93% of the respondents said they will most likely decrease.

  29. Question #2 What will happen with elective offerings in high school? Even with the overwhelming integration of tri-semesters, 63% of respondents said that elective offerings for students will most likely decrease.

  30. Question #3 What will alternative high school attendance look like? 95% ofrespondents stated that there will be a major increase in both desireof students and placementin alternative high schools.

  31. Question #4 What will the structured school day look like? 80% of respondents said classes will be longer.

  32. Question #5 Will the 2011 MMC standards help with employability? 88% of the respondents say NO.

  33. In a Nut Shell #1 The centralized mandated state reform act of MMC has decimated local school district governments and autonomy. Local economy allows school districts to customize graduation requirements to their unique student populations. Centralized state control could create catastrophic academic hardships for special ed and at-risk students, ultimately increasing drop-out rates.

  34. In a Nut Shell #2 • Existing evidence: we know that special ed and at-risk students have struggled with local district graduation requirements prior to the MMC reform. • Now: we have radically increased the graduation bar, yet, 98% of respondent school districts have developed no intervention plans to assist this challenging population.

  35. Local School DistrictsMMC Recommendations/Suggestions • #1 By fourth grade we need to profile and intervene academically challenged students. • #2 Academically challenged students need year-round schooling – must be a summer mandate. • #3 Identify at-risk learners LEARNING STYLES and tag them with it. (IEP Concept) • #4 School must be incorporate more technology to make learning entertaining and fun.

  36. Conflicting Theories Part II MDE = 16 Mandated Credits will improve test scores and graduation rates and employability. VS The Critical Thesis Question = 16 Mandated Credits will lower test scores, decrease graduation rates and not adversely affect employability. The answer to which theory is most prevalent in 2011 rests in the hands of local school district administrators. If the state’s theory is proven to be correct, we will need major interventions for at-risk and special ed students to begin immediately.

  37. Questions? Thank you, Derrick R. Fries, Ph.D. (248) 941-1365 Eastern Michigan University