Some schools object to 'Focus School' label

Being labeled a "Focus School by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is causing pushback from some schools. They claim they're being unfairly labeled as bad and are being forced to spend unnecessary money.

A Focus School designation reflects a large achievement gap between the top 30 percent of students and the bottom 30 percent of students in a school. While the schools may have high performance overall and meet Adequate Yearly Progress, the designation implies there's a problem in reaching low-achieving students. MDE recommends changes in teaching and learning practices that respond to the needs of those students.

The MDE is holding firm even though schools pushing back are looking for more flexibility. The Department doesn't see the need for waivers when a school has 30 percent of its students under-performing, regardless of how top students are doing.

It's questionable whether any help can come legislatively either. Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, House Education Committee chair, isn't making any promises. "We need information from the department. Time is short in the remaining session and I have some other issues I want to address.