Mike’s Musings – Marion tops area schools in Bridge ranking

Last week Pat Maurer wrote an article about Bridge Magazine’s ranking of Michigan School Districts. The rankings don’t put area schools in a very favorable light.

The rankings are based on an analysis of test scores for all public schools, and then are adjusted for socio-economic factors like family incomes. As a result that probably gives an edge to poorer districts who perform better than expected on test scores.

Three years of MEAP data for fourth and eighth graders in reading and mathematics, as well as additional 11th grade test data from the Michigan Merit exam were taken in to consideration.

So having all this data in place, which area school do you think scored the best? If you guessed Marion you would be right. Marion Public Schools has a history lately of doing well in state rankings.  This year they placed 101 out of the 543 public schools in Michigan.

Believe it or not neighboring school district, Evart had the worst ranking, 513. That’s 412 spots lower than Marion. One wonders what is so different between the two districts.  Socio-economically, both districts are on the low end, no doubt, but when it comes to test scores Marion shines.

Let’s give Marion their due. For probably one of the smaller school districts in the area, teachers and administrators there, certainly know how to coax their students in to scoring well on standardized tests. Kudos to you guys.

Also ranking low was Farwell. They scored a 455 ranking,  just ahead of Reed City. It is true that Farwell has struggled when it comes to school rankings, but we just came out with our Best of the Best issue last week, and Farwell Schools was voted the best local school system . Its clear many of the parents of children in that district, think the teachers and administrators are doing a great job despite state rankings.

As far as other area schools, Gladwin finished seven behind Marion, at 108. In the next tier, McBain placed 225, Beaverton was at 247, and Clare Public Schools finished just above the median at 253. Clare’s number was questionable to me, knowing that they typically score better than any area schools when it comes to tests.

Harrison Community Schools were slotted at 393. That’s between Clare and Farwell, which is probably where they belong.

What I found mind-boggling was that Crawford-Au Sable Schools, which is Grayling, finished 3rd. Only two Detroit area schools were better. I can’t understand why a Northern Michigan school district, with far less money to work with than schools downstate, could rank so high.

But then I looked at the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and there again, Crawford-Au Sable was one of the top schools on their list. It might do well for area administrators to take a lesson or two from this district. They apparently have been able to create a great learning environment is an area that is pretty economically depressed.

By the way, BRIDGE Magazine, the brainchild of Phil Power, who has owned several dozen newspapers over his career, is widely read by many, as it professes to ” better inform Michigan citizens so as to encourage a vibrant state in both the private and public sectors.”

I’m not sure those in Evart and Farwell would agree. I think in both districts, students are learning at a far better clip than Bridge school rankings would lead us to believe.

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