Perceptions of Michigan Educators on the Michigan Merit Curriculum
Professor Jane Finn, Hope College
The Michigan School Board recommended new graduation requirements using the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) for school children starting with the graduating class of 2011. The MMC includes four credits in English, three credits in science, three credits in social studies, two credits in a world language, and four years of math which consists of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and one other final year of high school math credit. These new graduation requirements focuses on (a) preparing upcoming Michigan high school graduates for the 21st century job market; and (b) decreasing the drop-out rate due to low expectations of school staff. In the spring of 2010, 462 Michigan educators were surveyed on their perceptions of the success of the MMC for all students including children identified as special education and “at risk”. Of those educators surveyed, 31% were Algebra instructors, 40% were special education teachers, and 29% were secondary administrators consisting of principals and special education directors. Results of this quantitative research show that 65% of the teachers could articulate a new curriculum plan in place and alternative methods for completing the Algebra I graduation requirement for students who were indentified “at risk” and special needs. Approximately 25% of the Algebra teachers did not feel qualified to teach special education students and desired more professional development in this area; 100% of the special education teachers felt that the Algebra teachers were ill-prepared to teach children in special education. Ironically, 80% of the teachers as opposed to 16% of the administrators feel that the drop-out rate will increase as a result of these new curriculum changes.
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