New Haven District, Schools Meet AYP, High School Taken Off 'Priority' List
New Haven Community Schools Superintendent Keith Wunderlich said he is "very happy" with his district's report card from the Michigan Department of Education this year.
When the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released its school report cards Thursday, officials in New Haven Community Schools were thrilled to see their district had not only made Adequate Yearly Progress, but New Haven High School had been dropped from the state’s list of “priority” schools.
Previously called persistently lowest achieving schools, “priority schools” are now identified as those in the bottom 5 percent of the annual top-to-bottom ranking and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years.
“We’re very excited (by the results), but I think this is just an indication we are on the right track but we’re not there yet,” said Superintendent Keith Wunderlich. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Although the district made AYP last year, it did not meet goals in middle school reading and high school math. As a result, the district developed a series of new programs to strengthen its instruction in those areas.
“We’re going to continue with our plan at the high school even though we’re not on the priority list anymore,” Wunderlich said. “Our plan was to extend the school day at the high school and that’s going to work two ways. Students will have the opportunity to earn their associate’s (degree) and it gives us additional time during the school day to work with those kids who are not performing up to their grade level.”
New Haven has enlisted the support of curriculum experts from the Macomb Intermediate School District to work with teachers in an effort to improve K-12 scores on the MEAP and MME.
“While we’re happy, we would like to be on the reward list,” Wunderlich said. “That would be our goal, to be viewed by the state as improving dramatically the academic achievement of all kids.”
The MDE has identified “reward schools” as the top 5 percent of all Michigan schools in the annual top-to-bottom ranking and the top 5 percent making the greatest academic progress over the past four years. While L’Anse Creuse Public Schools, Chippewa Valley Schools and Utica Community Schools have reward schools, none are located within Macomb Township.
One way New Haven will work to achieve this "reward" status will be by improving its Education Yes! grades, which are another measure of performance based on student achievement, achievement growth and self-assessments from schools.
Last year, New Haven Elementary School earned an A on its Michigan Education YES! accreditation, while Endeavour Middle School earned a B and New Haven High School a D.
According to this year’s report cards, New Haven Elementary, including the Endeavour Elementary Wing, and Endeavour Middle School received B's, while New Haven High School received a C.
“The B’s are good, but I would like to change them to A’s and move the C to a B and work that up to an A,” Wunderlich said, adding that academics can now be the district’s primary focus as New Haven is “almost out of the woods financially."
Facing bankruptcy, the district has reduced its deficit by 78 percent over the past two years and Wunderlich said New Haven will now take its "concentration and switch it to where it should be and that is academic achievement … People are going to see some changes. We’re on the right track already. I won’t be happy until we have straight A’s and we’re on the reward list.”