Bridge Magazine's 2017 Academic State Champs


Bridge is rating Michigan high schools by how well they prepare students for college or career training after they graduate.

Bridge Magazine is proud to name 54 high schools as 2017 Academic State Champs. The schools listed below are best preparing students for success after graduation.

This year’s State Champs mark a dramatic departure from past years, when the award was based on how well public elementary, middle and high schools performed on state assessments, when adjusted for poverty. Because Michigan changed its assessment, Bridge is unable to compare multiple years of testing data.

So Bridge is instead looking into how public high schools, including charters, are preparing students for life after graduation. Are students “college-ready” in key subjects? Are they pursuing -- and getting -- a college degree or certificate? 

Related: 6 reasons why students at some high schools are better prepared for college or career

We separate the ACS winners below into four categories, so they are compared with schools of similar poverty rates. Studies show income can be a key predictor of student success.

Click on a school to get more details

High schools with below average incomes

Below are the 10 high schools that best prepared students for success among the 166 schools in the state in which between 40 percent and fewer than 55 percent of students were eligible for a free or reduced-priced lunch.

Renaissance High School (Detroit)

Hancock Central High School

Harbor Beach Community High School (in Huron County)

East Kentwood High School (Kentwood)

Montague High School

South Haven High School

Sterling Heights Senior H.S. (Warren Consolidated)

Owosso High School

Edsel Ford High School (Dearborn)

Luther L. Wright K-12 School (Ironwood)

Lowest-income high schools

Below are the nine high schools that best prepared students for success among the 141 schools in which more than 55 percent of students were eligible for a free or reduced-priced lunch.

Loy Norrix High School (Kalamazoo)

Fordson High School (Dearborn)

Star International Academy (in Dearborn Heights)

Kalamazoo Central High School

Fairview School

Jackson High School

Ferndale High School

Melvindale High School

Mott Middle College High School (Carman-Ainsworth)

How we narrowed down the list

For this report, Bridge considered three measures related to student success after high school:

College readiness: We looked at what percentage of a school’s high school juniors had done well enough on the ACT to be considered “college ready” in math, science, reading and English. The test was taken when the students were high school juniors.

Post-high school enrollment: This looked at what percentage of a school’s graduates enrolled in college or a certificate program within a year of graduation.

Post-high school progress: This measured what percentage of a school’s graduates had earned a certificate or degree or were still pursuing their higher education within four years after graduation.

We then grouped 620 high schools across the state, both traditional and charter, into four levels of student poverty, a key indicator of student success. In other words, we compared affluent schools with affluent schools, the poorest schools with their peers, and so on. We measured poverty by the percent of students at each school eligible for a free or reduced-priced lunch.

After breaking the schools into four income groups, we measured how each fared in the three measures of post-graduation success over several years. The schools that fared best in all three measures were named as Academic State Champs. Schools were rated from 1 to 10 in each measure, with 1 being the best.  

Why some high schools were excluded

A number of schools could not be included for a variety of reasons. Some were too small to have reliable data (the state does not report information when there are fewer than 10 participating students) or did not have data for the three graduating classes we looked at (2009, 2010 and 2011).

High schools that take in students from multiple districts, such as the prestigious International Academy of Oakland County, were also not included.. The state does not supply aggregate numbers for those multi-district schools, and the data is only available for those students from each district that attend the multi-district schools (sixteen districts feed into the International Academy). With the state suppressing all data in which there were fewer than 10 students in a particular category (number of graduates, for instance), it made it impossible to create accurate aggregate totals for the multi-district schools.

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Linda Weeks
Tue, 02/14/2017 - 10:25am

Interesting. Seems like a lot of these are public schools. Imagine that. My children went to public schools, were both National Merit Scholars and went to top tier colleges and held their own. I always felt it was a partnership between myself, their teachers and the community that supported the schools.

Michele Strasz
Tue, 02/14/2017 - 10:36pm

Lansing also has a growing Promise Scholarship program. In addition Lansing is the only community in the country with a Promise, Children's Savings Account program called Lansing SAVE, and a college access organization, the Capital Area College Access Network.

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 1:03pm

Thanks. I am suspicious of all school "rankings" but the Bridge's effort to pit "affluent school" v. "affluent school" makes more sense than the federal government's inspired notion of "top to bottom rankings" that state's like MI have adopted for school closures. Why in the world, for example, would you pit a District like Novi against East Detroit (or what's left of DPS) given the circumstances of the latter? The Michigan High School Athletic Association figured out years ago that schools of the same size should compete and then, later, borrowing from soccer relegation, that schools should move up and down in "leagues" according to success, interest, circumstances, etc. What "top to bottom rankings" do is provide political ammunition to demonize and then close schools with limited resources. Pretty sick.

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 2:11pm

Personally, I like the way you have compiled this information better than your traditional method. I think it provides a different sort of lens into academic success that moves beyond student score based on one test given on one day. There are schools on here that rarely get recognition for their great work despite many challenges.

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 1:19pm

Where are Monroe public schools?