Prepared for
Michigan Department of Education

Key Findings

The Michigan Department of Education contracted with Public Sector Consultants Inc. to conduct a targeted evaluation of selected public school academies in southeastern Michigan. The evaluation covered the impact of public school academies on traditional public schools, student mobility, the effects of management companies on public school academies, and student achievement at public school academies compared with traditional public schools. Based on our research, conducted July 1999 – June 2000, we compiled this list of key findings.

To date, public school academies (PSAs) appear to have had little impact on local traditional public schools, with two exceptions:

  • We find that local schools are likely to add specific features that their neighboring PSAs offer (such as all‐​day kindergarten, before‐ and after‐​school programs, and emphasis on character education). 
  • Local schools are now engaging in marketing to win families back to the district or keep them from transferring to public school academies or other districts. 

In addition, we found the following:

  • The PSAs that appear to have an impact on the community in which they are located are most often located in the Detroit area. Their impact is usually increased community education.
  • Building‐​level student mobility data are either incomplete or not available because not all of the study area schools collect this information on a consistent basis. In addition, those that do collect the information do so in a limited manner. They do not track where the student goes or the student’s perceptions of the PSA from which s/​he transferred. Furthermore, they do not collect the same information every school year. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to being affiliated with a management company.

  • One of the advantages is that it allows the lead manager/​principal to focus on day‐​to‐​day operations as well as longer‐​term goals and programs instead of administrative tasks.
  • Another advantage is that chain management companies (both local and national) can raise funding for building renovation or procurement, or they can purchase a building and lease it to the school at a lower price than a school would otherwise pay. 
  • One of the disadvantages of being affiliated with a management company is that the fee is on average about 10 percent. This money might be better allocated to instruction. 
  • We do not find that management companies affect curriculum, except for the national chain management companies, which develop the curriculum as part of their service. 

In terms of student achievement, we discovered the following:

  • Compared to earlier years, we find a decline in the percentage of students in both PSAs and traditional public schools with MEAP/​HST scores that place them in the highest performance category. Overall, the decline was greater among PSAs than among traditional public schools.
  • Both PSAs and traditional public schools show a wide variation in the percentage of students with scores that place them in the highest performance category on the MEAP/​HST. Statements about the overall achievement levels of students in PSAs or traditional public schools tend to hide this range of variation. 
  • The percentage of students at PSAs scoring “satisfactory” on the MEAP tests or in the “exceeds standards” and “meets standards” category on the HST tests is lower than at a majority of traditional public schools.
  • On the Michigan Department of Education’s measure of “adequate yearly progress” (approved for assessing the performance of federally funded Title I programs) between school years (SYs) 1997 – 98 and 1998 – 99, PSAs and traditional public schools performed similarly, while between SYs 1996 – 97 and 1997 – 98, PSAs outperformed traditional public schools. 
  • Over the span of years for which data are now available, PSAs outperformed traditional public schools on the Michigan Department of Education’s measure of “adequate yearly progress” in all subject areas. 
  • PSAs in their third year of operation generally perform better than PSAs that have been in operation for more or fewer years.
  • PSAs not affiliated with a management company perform better than PSAs affiliated with management companies on some performance measures. 
  • PSAs outside of the Wayne Intermediate School District generally perform better than PSAs within the district.

A copy of the full report is available below.