Education Achievement Authority of Michigan announces start-up schools

15 Detroit schools make up initial EAA roster 

At a special joint meeting Tuesday, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) of Michigan Board of Directors and Executive Committee approved the assignment of 15 Detroit Public Schools as its initial member schools to open in September.

Chancellor John Covington describes the EAA of Michigan as, “A different system for a different outcome.  It is our goal to create a new model for education within the state of Michigan.”

“The existing educational structure in this country was designed to accommodate an agrarian society 150 years ago,” Covington said.  “The old model simply does not fit a 21st Century digital society.  The EAA is a new model for students, teachers and parents to fit a new century.  We are fundamentally changing the paradigm for teaching and learning in Michigan.”

The EAA of Michigan is a new statewide system of schools starting in Detroit that will assume operation of the lowest 5 percent of the Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools as defined by the Michigan Department of Education in the state of Michigan over the next three years.

The concept for the EAA of Michigan was announced in June, 2011 by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Roy Roberts.  It was formally created in August, 2011 through an inter-local agreement between Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and DPS.  The EAA of Michigan has an 11-member board with seven members appointed by Snyder, two by DPS and two by EMU.

Covington said the nine elementary and six high schools assigned to the EAA will be radically transformed to address stifled student achievement in these schools.

“For the first time, students in direct run schools will be organized by their instructional level rather than by the number of years they have been in school,” Covington said.  “They will progress based on their individual mastery of subjects rather than the number of days spent in the classroom.

“EAA of Michigan will take low performing schools and build a portfolio of high performing schools. These schools will feature a flexible schedule; a rigorous curriculum aligned to state, national and international standards and increased school-site autonomy to make decisions necessary for students to succeed.  We are designing a new approach to education from the ground up.

The nine elementary/middle schools that will be part of EAA are:

  1. Brenda Scott Elementary/Middle
  2. Burns Elementary/Middle
  3. Law Academy
  4. Mary M. Bethune Elementary/Middle
  5. Murphy Elementary/Middle
  6. Nolan Elementary/Middle
  7. Phoenix Elementary/Middle
  8. Stewart Elementary/Middle
  9. Trix Elementary/Middle

The six high schools are:

  1. Central Collegiate Academy
  2. Denby High School
  3. Ford High School
  4. Mumford High School
  5. Pershing High School
  6. Southeastern High School

Covington said students who currently attend schools that have been assigned to the EAA of Michigan will automatically become a part of the new school system.  Families will have the choice to transfer to a different school if they so desire and have complete information on the options available to them.  Students from other schools may also enroll in EAA schools if they desire to be a part of the new education model.

A full schedule of meetings is planned to assure that parents are fully informed about all the options available for their children. Parents will receive a special package in the mail in a few days with meeting dates and times. In addition, parents can call the EAA Parent Information line at (313) 456-2278 or visit www.michigan.gov/eas for more information.  Covington said parents will have a voice in the future of their child’s school, including participation on School Reinvention Teams (SRTs) where they can provide direct feedback and guidance.  Open enrollment will take place March 15-April 16, 2012.

“Students will be free to apply to the school of their choice during open enrollment,” Covington said. “The goal is to increase high quality options for students so that they can find the best fit for them.”

Within EAA direct run schools, as students master subject matter at one level, they will advance to the next level of learning regardless of the number of days they have spent in the class.   Thus, advancement is based on their mastery of materials, not the number of days they have spent in class.  Students who require extra time to complete materials will not have to start over at the beginning of a new school year but will be able to work from their prior achievement levels.

“The EAA of Michigan is designed to empower teachers to succeed by giving them a professional work environment under which they will have the autonomy, support and empowerment they need to dramatically raise student achievement,” Covington said.

He said teachers will have access to:

  • timely and meaningful student data
  • best instructional practices
  • time to collaborate with others
  • mentors
  • time to teach and re-teach until students master content and skills
  • an institutional structure of continuous improvement that supports teacher growth
  • multiple pathways to teacher certification
  • timely meaningful professional development tied to student needs as shown by data
  • pay incentives

Covington said the EAA of Michigan schools will incorporate components of school transformation efforts being implemented around the country including in the Chicago Public Schools, in post-Katrina New Orleans and in Denver, Colorado. He and his staff hosted 12 strategic planning meetings in communities around the state from December 2011 to February 2012, to obtain input for envisioning schools of the 21st Century. More than 700 educators, parents, community leaders, clergy, business leaders and concerned citizens provided input on how the new system should operate and functions.  In addition, a statewide strategic planning student forum hosting 100 students was held in East Lansing, Michigan on the campus of Michigan State University in February.

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