Academic state champs: Top 10 lists

What are the top 10 charter schools in the state? The top 10 affluent school districts? What schools get the most academic achievement from their fourth-graders? The winners, ranging from small rural districts to urban charter schools, are the state’s best at raising student achievement above expected scores for the student body’s income level, according to a formula developed by Bridge Magazine and the Lansing research firm of Public Sector Consultants. See how we did it.

State Champs
Charter Schools
Rural and Small Town School Districts
Affluent School Districts
4th Grade
8th Grade
11th Grade

Top Ten Academic State Champs

Star International Academy (Dearborn Heights)
Central Academy (Ann Arbor)
Crawford AuSable Schools (Grayling)
Riverside Academy (Dearborn)
Godwin Heights Public Schools (Grand Rapids)
Okemos Public Schools
Bloomfield Hills Schools*
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Public  Schools of Calumet
Benzie County Central Schools

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Top Ten Charter Schools

Star International Academy (Dearborn Heights)
Central Academy (Ann Arbor)
Riverside Academy (Dearborn)
International Academy of Flint
Countryside Academy (Benton Harbor)
Excel Charter Academy (Grand Rapids)
Cesar Chavez Academy (Detroit)
West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (Grand Rapids)
Oakland International Academy (Detroit)
Universal Academy (Detroit)

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Top Ten Rural and Small Town School Districts

Crawford AuSable Schools (Grayling)
Public Schools of Calumet
Benzie County Public schools
Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools
Kingsley Area Schools
Fairview Area School District
Leland Public School District
Madison School District (Lenawee County)
Baldwin Community Schools
Houghton Lake Community Schools

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Top Ten Affluent School Districts

Okemos Public Schools
Bloomfield Hills Schools*
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Troy School District
Leland Public School District
Haslett Public Schools
Forest Hills Public Schools
Grand Haven Area Public Schools
East Grand  Rapids Public Schools
 South Lyon Community Schools

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Top Ten 4th Grade

Godwin Heights Public Schools (Grand Rapids)
Onaway Area Community School District
Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools
Albion Public Schools
Riverside Academy (Dearborn)
Spring Lake Public Schools
Stephenson Area Public Schools
Deckerville Community School District
Croswell-Lexington Community Schools
Les Cheneaux Community Schools

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Top Ten 8th Grade

Star International Academy (Dearborn Heights)
Riverside Academy (Dearborn)
Alanson Public Schools
Central Academy (Ann Arbor)
Leland Public School District
Fairview Area School District
Burr Oak Community School District
Brown City Community Schools
Covert Public Schools
Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools

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Top Ten 11th Grade

Star International Academy (Dearborn Heights)
Bloomfield Hills Schools*
Mackinaw City Public Schools
Bloomingdale Public School District
Okemos Public Schools
Countryside Academy (Benton Harbor)
Crawford AuSable Schools (Grayling)
Public Schools of Calumet
Caseville Public Schools
Cass City Public Schools

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* Data for Bloomfield Hills includes International Academy, which draws high-achieving students from numerous school districts.

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Tue, 01/28/2014 - 10:03am
Is the point in listing the most affluent districts to show that money does not always buy achievement? I guess we sort of knew that already right?
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 10:32am
They say it doesn't matter about affluence, but everyone knows it does. They can't have it both ways.
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 1:57pm
It also depends on if your schools focus is only to do well on the test in the 4th, 8th, and 11th grades. You need to incorporate how well these districts do on all yearly testing, ACT/SAT scores, etc. That will give you a better picture.
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 2:05pm
I fail to see the evidence of consistency from 4th to 8th to 11th. If your 'theories' are to hold water would we not see proof of success in the district across the board. How do you justify the 'successes' of the 11th grade level not supported by the 4th and 8th grades in the respective district. Perhaps there was something else at work. I do believe you skew the findings by somehow supplementing the economically 'disadvantaged' district to suit your positions. Perhaps the districts of limited means had so much headroom for growth that alone provides for significant improvement measures. Congrats to the districts for their advances but let us be mindful of heaping praise that is tempered by true accomplishments. Oh and I'm still looking for the 'Albian' district.
cheryl rose
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 5:50pm
I would like to see the list for all the school district to see where everyone placed.
James Peterson
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 10:07am
Affluency does not lead to good grades. Good grades lead to affluence.
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 11:11am
Godwin Heights is in Wyoming, not Grand Rapids
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 1:37pm
This is an awful report. You use words like "winners" - I didn't know education gave out prizes?? Why do affluent districts get a special category? And, don't even get me started on using MEAP data to show "excellence". This is in the same ridiculous category as giving schools a single letter grade. Very 1960's. You clearly haven't been up to speed on research regarding assessment and evaluation. There are almost 550 LEAs, 57 ISDs, and 255 charters in Michigan. You choose to single out 70 of them?
Fri, 01/31/2014 - 10:39am
I think the point of the report is to show a different perspective on performance. In general, socio-economic status of a district/community does impact raw scores. I like that this report compares districts to their peers (socio-economically). The author emphasizes that a district like Laingsburg is under-performing compared to its peers, while Godwin Heights is outperforming its peers. Value added research of this nature demonstrates the archaic nature of simply ranking schools by raw scores! The fact that East Grand Rapids has higher scores than many impoverished districts in the State has been a no-brainer fact for a long time for those in the education be told you are not performing at the level of your peers (again socio-economically) is much more sensible (and fixable) than to be told you are not performing at "x" level. Thank you for the refreshing approach.
Sun, 02/02/2014 - 6:06am
I agree that money isn't always the solution but just maybe sometimes it helps. Smaller class sizes at all levels, newer text books,upgrades in technology,updating your facilities, Do I need to go on? You must consider all factors in determining "success". The State continues to talk about the importance of education but has done little to help improve the situation. Try 30 plus kids in a science class, close to 30 in a kindergarten. Attracting good dedicated people into education is going to be increasingly more difficult. Leave the past and increase the number of days in school. R.L.
Tue, 02/18/2014 - 11:42am
I agree with everything you say, R.L. Maybe instead of summer school, online assignments that apply winter learning to practical experiences. Appeal to multi-abilities and get kids outdoors instead of in a classroom memorizing. How to monitor? Maybe pix and report? Maybe teacher visits the home?
Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:29pm
Unfortunately, the #1 K-12 educational program in the state, the Early College Alliance @ EMU ( is missing from this list because it is a shared educational entity between Washtenaw county school districts. ECA @ EMU students graduate with 60 college credits from EMU while in high school and nearly 84% of the students who are selected via lottery, no admission criteria, complete the general education requirements from EMU prior to graduating from high school. Thus, completing the most rigorous graduation requirements in the state of Michigan. There are better, more successful models out there that everyone should be aware of...