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.
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.
“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