Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source
Topic: Success

Southfield wins graduation 'game'

Football is full of statistics: rushing yards per game; total offense; turnovers; yards after catch; passing efficiency.

In the end, though, the only numbers that matter are on the scoreboard. Did you win or did you lose?

Southfield Public Schools doesn’t have the best 8th-grade or 4th-grade MEAP scores. And its juniors score below average on ACT proficiency.

But on the academic version of the scoreboard -- how many teens graduate -- Southfield is an Academic State Champion.

Specifically, Southfield is Bridge Magazine’s Division 2 champion of graduation rate, handing 90.5 percent of its students a diploma last spring after four years of high school. In Division 2, made up of urban schools with more than 40 percent of their students receiving federal free lunch assistance, Clarenceville School District was second, with a four-year graduation rate of 86 percent; Warren Consolidated Schools was third at 82 percent.

Additional coverage

Small schools dominate championships

Library investment pays off for Lakeshore

And the winners are ... 

Three cheers for academic success

Walkerville's success is the stuff of movies

Haslett builds readers, 20 minutes at a time  

Among those who graduated from Southfield last spring, 93 percent went on to a four-year, two-year or technical college, raking in about $10 million in scholarships. Those are impressive numbers for any school district, let alone one with 48 percent of its students receiving free lunch, an indicator of poverty.

BRIDGE DATABASE: See how your district is doing

BRIDGE GALLERY: Images of success

“We recognize we have a high free and reduced lunch population, said George Chapp, director of curriculum and instruction for the district. “This is a community that represents both ends of the spectrum, high socio-economic standing and those who are very transient.” That hasn’t stopped Southfield from maintaining “a real culture of success,” Chapp said.

Students who are at risk of dropping out are identified as early as their freshman year, with many going to the Southfield Regional Academic Campus for an aggressive intervention program that includes more individualized attention for students and credit recovery, which gives struggling students a chance to earn credits for classes in which they didn’t earn credits in the regular classroom, usually because they flunked.

SRAC was named the top alternative high school in the state by an association of alternative high schools, Chapp noted. “There are layer upon layer of early warning systems, so we don’t realize a higher failure rate,” he added.

None of this is cheap. With the district trimming more than $60 million from its budget in the past four years, dropout prevention programs easily could have been cut. But the district made a commitment to trim elsewhere so programs such as SRAC could survive.

Chapp explained, “There’s a determination across the district to make these programs work."

Graduation Rate Champions

The divisional winners are:

Lakeview (Calhoun County), Division 1

Southfield, Division 2

Schoolcraft, Division 3

North Muskegon, Division 4

Crestwood, Division 5

Mackinac Island, Fowler and Pewamo-Westphalia, Division 6

Rogers City, Division 7

Port Hope and Tekonsha, Division 8

How impactful was this article for you?

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now