News Story

Governor Praises Detroit School Ranked Among the Worst in the State

But if you factor in the students' background, that school rises to an 'A'

Gov. Rick Snyder highlighted Davison Elementary/Middle School as “one of the most outstanding schools in Detroit” during his State-of-the-State speech.

However, based on the state’s own Top-to-Bottom rankings, that Detroit public school is in the worst 8 percent of all schools in the state.

Yet, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy gave Davison Elementary/Middle School an “A” on its report card.

Why the discrepancy?

The Mackinac Center factors in a school’s socioeconomic status when it evaluates academic success, while the Michigan Department of Education does not.

Davison Elementary/Middle School had 93 percent of its 684 students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches in 2013-14.

Across the Detroit Public Schools as a whole, 81 percent of students were on free and reduced-price lunch programs that year.

“The Top-to-Bottom list is just a proxy for poverty,” said Audrey Spalding, education policy director for the Mackinac Center. “It doesn’t consider the environment in which the school operates.”

Donald Orlich, a professor emeritus at Washington State University, conducted a 2007 study that found that parental income can impact college entrance exams by as much as 80 percent.

“The data speaks very clearly,” Orlich said in an email. “Lower SES (socioeconomic status) has a negative effect on student achievement.”

The Michigan Department of Education didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. In the past, the state has said it was against using socioeconomic status in its evaluations of schools.


See also:

State School Rankings Mostly Measuring Race and Income

Flawed State Rankings Mean Some Principals Are Out of a Job

State Education Department Gives a Pass to Failing Districts; Punishes Charters

New Report Card Compares High School Test Scores and Adjusts For Economic Status

New Report Card Measures Elementary and Middle School Performance By Adjusting For Student Family Income