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Michigan Spent Two Years Crafting a New Accountability System. Then Republicans Scrapped It.

Michigan's department of education, arguably more than that in any other state, took to heart a clause in the Every Student Succeeds Act that requires "meaningful stakeholder engagement" in crafting its new school accountability system. 

Early on in the process, the state set up massive task forces, stacked with more than 350 parents, educators, scholars, and politicians. Action groups sent plans for approval to advisory committees, which then submitted those plans to government officials.

The state last year was one of the last in the nation to get its new accountability system approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

But in a showdown between the state's Democrats and Republicans last month over the powers of the soon-to-be inaugurated Democratic governor, Republicans scrapped the entire system and replaced it with a new one.

The new letter-based accountability system judges schools on English and math proficiency on a state test, growth in English and math scores, growth among English-language learners, high school graduation rates, and academic performance compared with similar schools. A peer-review panel will oversee the implementation of the new accountability system rather than the state's elected board of education.

Sheila Alles, the state's interim state superintendent, alleges in a letter addressed to the legislature that the new accountability system is not ESSA-compliant and will likely result in the state for the next year having two separate accountability systems. 

The state education department has asked the state's attorney general and the U.S. Department of Education to review the new accountability system.

Michigan is one of several states where the issuing of ESSA-compliant report cards in recent weeks has reignited political tension between parties, school officials, and local and state politicians.

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