Gladwin tops Bridge rankings of best area schools

January 30, 2014

By Pat Maurer

Of the five schools in the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District, Gladwin Community Schools was rated highest with a rank of 108 and an Academic Champs Score of 104.32, while Farwell Area Schools ranked lowest at 455 with a 94.5 Academic Champs Score.

In their third annual “Academic State Champs Report,” just released by Bridge Magazine of Lansing, one northern Michigan school district, Crawford AuSable Schools in Grayling, was the top ranked traditional school district in Michigan and the third overall with Dearborn Heights Star International Academy taking the first place slot and Central Academy in Ann Arbor claiming second.

In the recent article in the on-line magazine, a publication of the non-profit, non-partisan organization The Center for Michigan of Ann Arbor, writer Ron French said, “In 2011 Bridge Magazine launched the first Academic State Champs listing in an effort to praise fourth grade reading champs like we do our sports heroes.”

The Top to Bottom ranking was established to determine which schools are at, or exceeding expectations. The higher the Academic Champs Score, the better a school’s students are performing on standardized tests, based on students’ performance at expected levels for their income level.

This means that an affluent district may score higher on standardized tests, while a less affluent district could be ranked higher for exceeding their expectations for districts at their income level.

In the Bridge article, French said, “To measure the true effectiveness of schools, Bridge Magazine and the Lansing-based research firm of Public Sector Consultants created a ranking system measuring student achievement of schools enrolling students of comparable family income. In essence, it is a ranking not of achievement, but overachievement.”

Bridge Magazine used the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in a district to measure socioeconomic status, and then compared fourth and eighth grade MEAP scores and MME and ACT scores for 11th graders with income levels.

Of the 540 schools ranked across the State, 54 were listed in the “top ten percent.” with the highest Academic Champs Scores.  Academic Champs Scores of 100 or above means those district’s students are meeting expectations for their income level. The higher the rank, the better the district is doing for their students.

In Clare County, Clare Public Schools, with 1,537 students, scored highest. The district ranked 253 with an Academic Champs Score of 100.57. In the district 46.5 percent of students receive a free or reduced lunch based on family income. Students in the 11th grade ranked at 340; eighth graders ranked at 151 and fourth graders ranked at 272.

Harrison Community Schools, with 1,498 students ranked 393 and had an Academic Champs Score of 96.89. Seventy-four percent of the students there qualify for free or reduced lunches. In 11th grade the rank was 308; in eighth grade the rand was 387 and in fourth grade the rank was 399.

Farwell Area Schools had a State rank of 455 and an Academic Champs Score of 94.5. They have 1,491 students and 68.6 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches. Their 11th grade rank is 425; the eighth grade rank is 488 and the fourth grade rank is 353.

In Gladwin County, Gladwin Community Schools, with a student count of 1,810, the district’s rank was 108 and the Academic Champs Score is 104.32. Sixty-one percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. At the 11th grade level , the rank was 133. In eighth grade it was 141 and in fourth grade the rank was 147.

Beaverton Rural Schools, with a student count of 1,326, ranked 247 with an Academic Champs Score of 100.79. Nearly 65 percent of students there qualify for free or reduced lunches. Their 11th grade rank was 399; the eighth grade rank was 255 and in fourth grade the rank was 85.

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