Flint, MI—Flint Community Schools (FCS) has set its goals for improving student outcomes alongside state and local partners, following a state evaluation. 

The evaluation was done through the Michigan School Index System, which identified seven low-performing schools in FCS to be covered by a partnership agreement between the district, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD). 

“We’ve been working with MDE, our partners at ISD, our staff here in Flint schools to secure an agreement that will support Flint scholars academically and the interest of our families as it pertains to securing a great future for our scholars,” Kevelin Jones, the Flint Schools superintendent, said during a Wednesday, April 12, 2023, Board meeting. 

The overarching goals outlined in the agreement involve boosting literacy, math and the district’s systems. Schools covered by the agreement are Brownell, Eisenhower, Freeman, Holmes, Neithercut, Pierce and Potter. Accordingly, officials have crafted 18-month and 36-month targets to be met by these schools alongside buildings district-wide. 

Kevelin Jones, superintendent of Flint Community Schools, speaks during a Board of Education meeting at the Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. on April 12, 2023. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

The Flint Schools teacher’s union, United Teachers of Flint, also plans to sign the agreement. 

“I think it’s a good plan,” Karen Christian, a teacher at Potter and the union’s president, told Flint Beat. “I think it’s very doable … I think that making sure that we have the right partners involved with this plan will be a good thing.” 

For academics, the district aims include increasing the percentage of students who score proficient on M-STEP in math and English Language Arts (ELA) by at least 3% by 2025 (and at least a 3% increase of students who score proficient for PSAT in ELA and math for Holmes). These state assessments show students’ skills for their grade-level. 

Below are the baseline percentages of students scoring proficient on M-STEP in ELA for Spring 2022: 

  • Brownell: 6.09%
  • Eisenhower: 14.02%
  • Freeman: 3.51%
  • Holmes: 8.89% (PSAT)
  • Neithercut: 4.4%
  • Pierce: 8.33%
  • Potter: 12.17%

Below are the baseline percentages of students scoring proficient on M-STEP in math for Spring 2022: 

  • Brownell: 0%
  • Eisenhower: 3.77%
  • Freeman: 2.65%
  • Holmes: 0.96% (PSAT) 
  • Neithercut: 1.11%
  • Pierce: 6.25%
  • Potter: 0.87%

Flint Schools also set the target to increase by at least 10% or have at least 55% of students meet their growth projection on the reading and math for the NWEA MAP Growth assessment, according to the agreement. The assessment shows students growth in ability levels over time. 

Below are the baseline percentages of students meeting growth projections on the NWEA Reading MAP Growth assessment in Spring 2022: 

  • Brownell: 43%
  • Eisenhower: 45.1%
  • Freeman: 50.3%
  • Holmes: 32.4%
  • Neithercut: 35.1%
  • Pierce: 63.2%
  • Potter: 43.5%

Below are the baseline percentages of students meeting growth projections on the NWEA Math MAP Growth assessment in Spring 2022: 

  • Brownell: 34.2%
  • Eisenhower: 52.5%
  • Freeman: 56.9%
  • Holmes: 35.3%
  • Neithercut: 32.5%
  • Pierce: 68.7%
  • Potter: 48.4%

Developing more effective systems, addressing the district’s governance, attendance, diversity and inclusion training, alongside business and human resources operations are all a part of the goal, according to Diona Clingman, the FCS executive director of academics. 

Steve Tunnicliff, the GISD superintendent, said the intermediate school district will be supporting the district with reaching the agreement’s targets, like boosting the efficiencies in Flint Schools’ HR and finance operations, and supporting the transitions in those systems. 

Further, Tunnicliff said GISD is expanding its academic coaching for Flint Schools students. Currently, GISD provides such instructional support at two FCS buildings. GISD will be working alongside Flint Schools to prioritize schools with the most immediate needs and increase the number of coaches in additional FCS schools, he explained. 

“That’s going to be a pretty significant expansion,” Tunnicliff said. 

William Pearson, director of the Office of Partnership Districts at the Michigan Department of Education, speaks about the partnership agreement during an FCS community forum at the Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

With respect to state funding to support partnership districts like Flint Schools, William Pearson, the director of MDE’s Office of Partnership Districts, said the dollar amount allocated to each district in the state remains to be determined. 

“We have $6 million this year that we still want to allocate to districts by June 30,” Pearson told the Board on Wednesday.

In particular, the office has $6,137,400 to be allocated by that date from its fiscal year 2023 allocation of state funds for partnership districts in Michigan, William Disessa, an MDE spokesperson, wrote in a statement. Overall, MDE announced in a November 2022 press release that 54 Michigan school districts are required to enter into partnership agreements. 

For the next fiscal year, Pearson said he hopes that his office’s allocation of funds for partnership districts will be double the amount from 2023.    

Flint Schools entered a previous partnership agreement in 2018 and received $1,547,961 from fiscal years 2018 to 2022, according to Disessa. 

The new partnership agreement runs through November 2025, and all parties will enter the agreement by April 17, 2023 when they sign off on it. 

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...