LANSING)--The state's grading local schools, and instead of using letters it's using colors.
The new statewide education standards eliminate the "annual yearly progress." Instead, schools are categorized as one of five colors. The colors range from green to red, much like a traffic light system.
Dark Green: 85% and up
Light Green: 70%-85%
Yellow : 60%-70%
Red: 50% and lower
"Yellow means caution, red means warning, and green means things are good to go," said Venessa Kessler, Deputy Superintendent for Education Services.
More than seventy percent of Michigan schools were ranked in the yellow category.
But it's more complicated than just looking at a color. Schools are rated different colors for different reasons. One school might have a higher percentage rating overall, but will get a lower color rating because of a low-performing subgroup.
For the scorecard, each school is rated on math, reading, social studies, writing, completion rate, and attendance.
"We look at the data and see where the strengths and weaknesses are." said Kessler.
Kessler admits, it's not an easy system to understand at first. Brooke Ballee-Stone, the Curriculum Director for Eaton Rapids agrees.
"It's still a little bit confusing, and I can't imagine what it's going to be when a parent gets on and takes a look at it." said Ballee-Stone.
(Find a link to the rating system at the bottom of this story)
The color scorecard is just part of the schools ratings. The Michigan Department of Education also labeled schools in a 'Top to Bottom' ranking; bringing attention to schools that need significant progress
The state introduced three categories for the Top to Bottom system: reward, focus, and priority.
-Reward schools are high performing and those making the most progress.
-Focus schools have the largest achievement gaps.
-Priority schools are the bottom five percent of the "top-to-bottom" rankings, and any high school with a graduation rate below 60 percent for three years in a row.
Eaton Rapids High School has one of the highest averages for the A-C-T. But because there's a big gap between the bottom 30% and the high scores, they were marked as Focus school.
"It's frustrating because you know the teachers are looking at data, administrators are looking at data, and trying to help the students to achieve," said Ballee-Stone.
As of right now the state has no consequences for the schools that were ranked low. Instead it's focusing on support programs and interventions that might increase student achievement.
"In Michigan we have some areas of strength, but we know were not reaching our goals for all of our students. If we're going to raise achievement and become competitive globally, we need to raise the achievement for all Michigan students," said Kessler.