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School rankings show districts' points of pride, areas for improvement | News

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School rankings show districts' points of pride, areas for improvement


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan's annual school accountability scorecards are out.


The report ranks schools according to factors like attendance and how well they meet goals set by the state's education department.


Schools that fall in the bottom five percent of the rankings are considered "priority" schools and are placed under the supervision of Michigan's school reform officer. There are 138 schools identified as "priority" schools. Nearly half of them are on that list for the fist time.


At least two West Michigan districts with priority schools also have schools among the state's top performers: Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godwin Heights Public Schools.


To see the whole list, visit https://www.mischooldata.org and click on the Dashboard & Accountability Scorecard.


Improving school performance takes a lot of work, says Godwin Heights Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff.


"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon," he says. "We have seen some improvement from, 0 to 2 percent efficiency."


Still, the second percentile puts Godwin Heights High School near the bottom of schools ranked by the state.


Fetterhoff says several factors, including poverty, have an impact.


"Our kids can perform, but they come in at a level where they need to catch up in some areas."


In the Grand Rapids Public Schools district, Ottawa Hills High School has made it up a smaller hill. It's now ranked in the tenth percentile, instead of the bottom five.


"I believe the main reason Ottawa Hills is no longer on the lowest five percent is because they increased their graduation rate by 13 percent," said Ron Gorman, GRPS's executive director for secondary schools.


On the other end of the spectrum is City High Middle School, ranked in the 99th percentile.


The principal at City says poverty is a factor in school rankings -- but not an excuse. In fact, he says about a third of his students qualify for free or reduced lunch.


It's important to note that the school only accepts higher-performing students.


"It's the expectation that since we serve those families and those kids that we keep the bar high," said Principal Michael Pascoe.


Back at Godwin Heights Public Schools, the elementary school is ranked way up in the 84th percentile. So why the drop in high school?


The superintendent says, simply put, the tests are different.


"Those same students that had a certain level of proficiency don't attain that once they go into high school," according to Fetterhoff. He'd like to see the state tests become more consistent throughout the school years.


"There's no magic or silver bullet to this," he says.


For now, he hopes to keep moving in the right direction -- all the schools in the district improved this year. He hopes to get the high school out of the bottom five by this time next year.