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Failing school district to expand

Staff Report

DETROIT—Phoenix Academy, one of the “failing” K-8 schools taken by Gov. Rick Snyder to form the experimental Education Achievement Authority, will expand. There will be a Phoenix high school in the fall, it was announced at the EAA board meeting March13.

Boos, catcalls and shouts greeted the announcement from upset parents, education advocates and taxpayers in the audience, who have battled school closings, creation of the EAA — a separate district for failing students — and loss of local control.

It appears the EAA is expanding failure.

According to Tom Pedroni, Wayne State associate professor of Curriculum Studies and Director of the Detroit Data and Democracy Project, who analyzed the EAA MEAP scores, test scores of Phoenix students are among the worst in the district.

Pedroni’s analysis reveals that among those who took the 2013 MEAP math test at Phoenix who did not score proficient in 2012, 78 percent made no progress toward proficiency or declined after a year in the experimental district.

That is 41.7 students who made no progress toward proficiency and another 37.1 who actually declined.

Among those students who tested proficient in math in 2012, the year they entered the EAA, new test scores reveal 20 percent stayed at the same level and 80 percent declined — 60percent had significant declines.

Among those who entered Phoenix proficient in math, 60 percent have dropped so far they are no longer proficient, according to Pedroni.

The picture is as bleak for reading skills. Among those who took the 2013 MEAP reading test at Phoenix who did not score proficient in 2012, 66 percent made no progress toward proficiency or declined after a year in EAA.

Among those who tested proficient in reading in 2012, when they entered the EAA, one-fourth stayed the same level, one-fourth improved moderately, and the other half all declined, with more than half of the decliners having a significant decline. Among those who entered Phoenix proficient in reading, 39 percent have dropped so far that they are no longer proficient, according to Pedroni.

EAA officials said it was necessary to expand the district because there are no high school openings in the area, since Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin closed Southwestern, which he now wants to sell. Martin closed the school —one of only high schools in the south west Detroit community — in 2011 leaving Western International High overcrowded.

DPS elected board members traveled to Lansing Feb. 28 in their continuing battle to have the Southwestern building sold to 6500 15 Mile Road LLC, a company promising to retain part of the building for educational use. Martin wants the building sold to a company that will demolish it.

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