County schools rated average

November 26, 2014

By Pat Maurer

State Schools have been graded and given their report cards for the past year.

Mt. Pleasant and Gladwin High Schools both received a “B.” Area high schools earning “Cs” include Clare, Farwell’s Early College, Harrison, Beaverton and Marion schools. Schools with a “D” grade were Farwell and McBain high schools.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, of Midland, just released its second “Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card” last Thursday evaluating and grading every standard public high school in Michigan.

The Context and Performance grade or CAP Report Card examines public high school performance while taking into account family income and school location, producing what they call an “apples-to-apples” comparison for parents and policymakers.

McBain Superintendent Michael Harris expressed his concerns with the Mackinac Center’s CAP Report Card.

He said in part, “A family’s socioeconomic condition is definitely a contributing factor. However I feel their [The Mackinac Center’s] report would have been more useful had it included other variable and factors that influence academic success.”

Harris continued, “…Did they consider enough variables that could be cross correlated and did they choose the correct variables? I discovered another variable. I found that 17 out of the 20 [top 20 performing schools] received a higher than the base Foundation Allowance. Could that be a contributing factor in academic performance? Unfortunately this variable was overlooked in the ‘Regressive Analysis’ used in their study.”

He added, “Other discrepancies I found hard to explain in their report was the matrix that was used to determine the letter grade schools were issued.”

Harris said, “I wonder how much money was spent on this piece of research…digging deeper is why we perform research in the first place.”

9-20-13 doni pummel headshot

Clare Superintendent, Doniel Pummell

Clare Superintendent Doniel Pummell said, “The Mackinaw Center Report serves a unique purpose.  It ranks schools based on achievement combined with poverty levels in the school.  Schools with high poverty and higher achievement will rank higher with this system. Schools with lower poverty and high to average achievement will rank average, and so on with the points earned and the ranking system.  Clare High School has an average level of poverty and average to mid achievement; therefore we have a C with this ranking system.  However, when looking at the points earned, we were only a few points away from a B.  Clare’s Mission Statement is “Creating Personal Success.”  The staff is dedicated to meeting the needs of each and every student.  Clare’s balance of academics, arts and athletics ensures that we consider all students and the whole learner in our programming which is why… Pioneers lead the way!”

Tom House, Superintendent at Harrison Community Schools, said, “We do look at this report.  In fact just last week I looked through it and forwarded it to our administrative team.  This Mackinac Center report is another way to view student achievement by using socio-economic factors to predict an expected level of success on the ACT/MME tests and then comparing a school’s actual scores to the predicted scores.  I think this report card was last published for high schools two years ago.”

House continued, “While all educators and all districts strive for high student achievement scores, it is interesting to see this

Harrison Superintendent, Tom House

Harrison Superintendent, Tom House

“apples to apples” comparison.  We all know that our county is among the highest in terms of poverty, and we also know that childhood poverty is a factor that impacts student achievement. The Mackinac report shows that Harrison Community High School’s achievement on the state assessments is slightly above average when compared to our predicted scores.  This is gratifying, but it is not the way in which the Department of Education or the State assigns grades or achievement status.  We all continue to work hard to help our students learn and to improve student achievement.”

Carl Seiter Superintendent

Farwell Superintendent, Carl Seiter

Carl Seiter, Superintendent at Farwell Schools, said, “The Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card, done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy does consider factors that the State of Michigan’s Top to Bottom Ranking does not.  Farwell High School’s continued focus is the long-term success of our students.  Obtaining college credits or earning certifications in job-ready programs continues as one of our goals.” He continued, “Farwell Area Schools need to continue the hard work and dedication to the long and continuous process of improvement.”

Marion Superintendent Mort Meier said, “The Mackinac Center for Public Policy offers a description of its comparison view of different schools.  They give each school a top to bottom ranking of school quality based upon academic achievement and socio-economic status.  Their ranking is based on a standard bell curve which means, by definition, the average score for all public schools is 100, corresponding to a letter grade of C.  Marion High School received a grade of C, an average score for all public schools.  With any comparison between schools, one always wants to receive the highest score.  We can’t change the socio-economic status of our community but we have GREAT students!   We can affect the student achievement levels and this is where Marion will continue to focus its attention.”

Susan M. Wooden, Beaverton Superintendent said, “”I am proud of Beaverton’s Junior/Senior High School staff and administration in their efforts to prepare ALL students to become college and career ready.  While rural school districts across the State struggle with economically disadvantaged subgroups, we remain committed to offering all students an equal and excellent education.”

“We were the first research group in the state to attempt this type of analysis on such a large scale,” said Audrey Spalding, Mackinac Center education policy director and author of the study. “We now have two four-year periods of data, with two overlapping years, and it’s even more obvious that socioeconomic factors have a significant impact on standardized test results.”

She said four years’ worth of Michigan Merit Exam and ACT test scores were adjusted based on the percentage of students in a high school who qualified for a free lunch. A high school’s “CAP Score” indicates how far above or below projections a high school performed given its student population’s socioeconomic status, with 100 set as the standard. “A school’s locale – urban, suburban, town or rural – provides another way of comparing high schools throughout the state.”

A CAP score of 100 or better indicates a school did as well or better than expected and a school’s “percent Rank” indicates how the school scored, compared to others in the state.

With “B” grades, Gladwin and Mt. Pleasant High Schools ranked highest placing 153rd and 187th respectively of the 659 public high schools included in the report.

Mt. Pleasant High School’s CAP score was 103.30 placing them in the 71.73 percentile.

Gladwin High School ranked in the highest level of the Clare-Gladwin RESD district at 153rd statewide. They scored 104.03 placing them at the 76.93 percentile.

Gladwin Superintendent Rick Seebeck said, “As the superintendent of Gladwin Community Schools, I am very proud of the work being done by our dedicated staff and faculty.  Being ranked in the top 25 percent of all Michigan High Schools by the Mackinac Center is a clear indicator of our commitment to student learning.”

Earning “Cs” and scoring close to the standard score of 100 were Clare, Farwell Early College, Harrison High School, Beaverton and Marion.

Farwell Early College scored 101.38, ranked 274th at 58.57 percent and was number 12 of 13 “Selective High Schools ranked in the state.

Harrison High School ranked at 311th with a score of 100.79 placing the school in the 52.96 percentile.

Statewide, Clare ranked at 315th, scored 100.72 and placed at 52.35 percent.

Marion High School ranked number 379 and scored just under 100 at 99.10 placing them at the 42.64 percentile.

Beaverton High School ranked at 462nd statewide with a score of 97.37 placing them at the 30.05 percentile.

Farwell and McBain both were given “D” grades. Although both scored in the 90s, they were both below the 25th percentile.

Farwell High School scored 96.03, ranked 521st and was in the 21.09 percentile.

McBain High School ranked at 560th with a score of 94.70 in the 15.17 percentile.


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