Bridge Magazine, an up-and-coming online publication, has released its list of 2012 Academic Champions, which is essentially a ranking of Michigan school districts based on whether they are “overachievers,” and the results are pretty dismal for Macomb County.
Of the 560 school districts and charter schools listed, Macomb has six districts that failed to crack the top 400: South Lake (410), Romeo (442), East Detroit (444), Chippewa Valley (454), Richmond (479) and New Haven (524).
Bridge Magazine, in collaboration with the Lansing-based research firm Public Sector Consultants, created a ranking system measuring a school’s test scores adjusted for student family income, which is often a predictor of academic achievement. “In essence, it is a ranking not of achievement, but overachievement,” according to their website.
The magazine’s value-added rankings measure test scores in the fourth, eighth and 11th grades and then, using an analytical formula, measure those grades against the socioeconomic conditions in the district.
The premise is that it’s rather easy for Bloomfield Hills teachers to produce high-achieving kids, but it’s much more difficult to score academic success in a high-poverty school system like Godwin in Grand Rapids.
But, against those odds, Bridge Magazine’s Value Added Matrix, or VAM, concluded that Godwin is the top-ranked public school district on the list of 52 Academic Champions.
In Macomb County, the highest-ranked district was Center Line at No. 82. The only other Macomb districts in the top 200 were Clintondale (121) and Mount Clemens (175).
Here’s how Bridge Magazine writer Ron French, an award-winning reporter formerly with The Detroit News, explains the rankings:
“To a frustrating level, school test scores are a function of the socioeconomic status of the children who walk through the doors. It’s not a coincidence that some of the school districts with highest raw test scores (Bloomfield Hills, Okemos, Forest Hills) are in wealthy communities, or that struggling school districts (such as Detroit, Flint and Saginaw) are in poor ones.
“Bridge … (is) celebrating schools that are finding a way to push learning through the socioeconomic ceiling.
“School districts traditionally thought of as high-performing do well in the analysis, but the top 10 is dominated by charter schools and high-poverty districts not typically recognized for academic success.”