The 2014 Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card is the Mackinac Center’s second effort to measure high school performance. The first high school assessment was published in 2012, followed by the Center’s 2013 elementary and middle school report card, which used a similar methodology to evaluate school performance. The Center plans to publish the high school report card and the elementary and middle school report card in alternating years moving forward.
Though several school report cards and rankings are produced each year to evaluate schools in Michigan, most of these assessment do not take into account student socioeconomic background, which research has shown has a large impact on student achievement.
School rankings and report cards that mainly rely on absolute student achievement run the risk of measuring schools based on student poverty, rather than school quality. By taking into account student socioeconomic background, this report card provides a better “apples-to-apples” comparison of school quality.
Further, this report card averages school-level outcomes across four years, providing a more stable assessment of school quality over time. When measuring the performance of high schools, this is particularly important, because only one class of students (high school juniors) takes state assessment tests. Using a four-year average of scores provides a more complete profile of a school’s performance.
The resulting Context and Performance rankings provide an indication of whether a school, given its students’ socioeconomic background, has posted academic outcomes that are better or worse than expected. Schools with test scores that exceed expectations receive higher rankings, while schools with test scores that fall below expectations receive lower rankings.