New High School Rankings Available in Unique Report Card

‘Context and Performance’ analysis accounts for student poverty rates when grading schools

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017


Chantal Lovell
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — As the state’s School Reform Office prepares to release a school ranking list that could lead to closures of schools, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy published its 2016 Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card.
The third-edition report card offers a unique assessment of Michigan’s high schools. It takes into consideration the socioeconomic status of students in each high school when assigning grades. In doing so, this Context and Performance report card is able to provide a more comprehensive assessment of schools by evaluating academic performance in the context of the students being served.
“Our goal is to get a better picture of how schools are performing given the challenges their students face and improve the debate regarding school effectiveness,” said Ben DeGrow, study co-author and director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. “By grading schools on both performance and student poverty, we are closer to measuring the impact that individual high schools have on student performance.”
As the report card shows, some schools rank poorly when only test scores are considered, but when the socioeconomic status of the students is factored in, they are beating difficult odds and performing beyond expectations. Two such schools, Saginaw’s Arthur Hill High School and Michigan Virtual Charter Academy, are on the state’s 2015 "Priority List," making them potentially eligible for closure. However, they each earned a “C” grade on the Center’s report, which is average performance compared to the rest of the schools in the state.
“The state’s method of only considering student test scores when slating a school for closure puts some schools at unfair risk of being shuttered simply because they serve higher populations of economically disadvantaged students,” DeGrow said.
The Context and Performance report card includes scores for 639 public high schools in Michigan, including charter schools and cyber schools. Though charter schools account for fewer than 12 percent of the schools in the report, more than a third of the top 20 schools are charters. For the third consecutive time, Dearborn charter school Star International Academy is the highest ranked school in the state. Okemos High School ranked highest among district-run schools.
The report also highlights schools that made significant gains and three rural schools showed the largest improvement from 2012 to 2016. They are Kingston High School in the Thumb region, Eau Claire High School in southwest Michigan and Lake Fenton High School in Genesee County.
The Context and Performance report card incorporates scores from both the old Michigan Merit Examination and the new M-STEP tests and bases poverty rates on the number of students receiving free lunches.
In addition to a print copy, there is an online database available that is searchable by school name, school type, district or municipality, locale and score.
The online database is available here:

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