Researchers Shed Light on Washtenaw Focus Schools

This press release was written for Hanover Research.

WASHINGTON, DC—In July 2012, Michigan received a waiver from several mandates of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Thus, beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will adopt new accountability standards. Schools in the top 5 percent of the state’s top-to-bottom ranking will be granted a “reward” status, whereas schools in the bottom 5 percent will receive “priority” status. “Focus” status applies to schools with the largest observed gaps in achievement. The weighted formula reflects a combination of each school’s overall achievement, change in achievement, and achievement gap in the five tested content areas (reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and writing).

More than half of the schools in Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) qualify for focus status, but its focus schools perform quite well according to other metrics. An impressive 93.5 percent of WISD’s focus schools made adequate yearly progress in 2011-2012. WISD utilized Hanover Research to gain a better understanding of the new rankings. In addition to providing a detailed explanation of MDE’s methodology, Hanover identified ethnic and socio-economic trends among identified focus schools. Hanover’s continued analysis will drill down into student-level data to further identify the composition of WISD focus schools; this information will support strategic planning and progress for WISD moving forward. Naomi Norman, the Director of Assessment, Planning, and Research for WISD, recently reached out to Hanover to thank them for their support.

“This does exactly what I needed it to do,” she gushed. “I learned from it, and it helps us understand a bit better some of the dynamics at play with this new metric. We’ll share this report with our superintendents next week and have a meeting scheduled with state school improvement and accountability leaders next Friday.”




Hanover Research, a membership-based organization, collaborates with over 150 local school districts, regional education agencies, and state departments of education across the U.S. The goal of Hanover is to provide additional research capacity to participating members at a fixed, annual cost. Areas of focus include: program evaluation; survey design, administration and analysis; interviews with issue experts; data mining and analysis; competitive benchmarking; and literature reviews on both curricular and operational topics. Visit us at or contact Sid Phillips, 202-559-0049,, to learn more.


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