Once at rock bottom, this Northern Michigan elementary now produces stars

Kenwood Elementary in Cadillac is proving that low-income students can learn to read as well as their wealthier classmates. Can the rest of Michigan learn the same lesson? (Bridge photo by Ron French)

CADILLAC – By almost any indicator, the students at Kenwood Elementary in Cadillac should be poor readers.

Almost three in four Kenwood students are economically disadvantaged, in a state that ranks 44th in the nation in low-income fourth-grade reading skills.

More than nine in 10 students at the school are white; Michigan’s poor, white students rank a dismal 49th in fourth-grade reading, ahead of only Alaska.

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Yet Kenwood’s low-income students are reading all-stars, meeting Michigan’s fourth-grade reading standards at double the rate of poor students elsewhere in the state. That’s quite a record for a school that, just four years ago, was one of the worst-performing in Michigan as measured by the Michigan Department of Education.

That turnaround was no miracle, say school leaders in Cadillac, just a new approach to teaching, a focus on data, and a lot of work.

“Change is hard,” said Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown. “A sense of urgency is needed.”

Four years ago, Kenwood Elementary was in the second percentile of schools in Michigan; two years later, it had rocketed to the 59th percentile. (Bridge photo by Ron French)

The question is whether Michigan can find that same sense of urgency to respond to poor education performance across the state.

Scores released this month from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, often called the “nation’s report card,” showed Michigan remains in the bottom third nationally in overall student achievement. Michigan fourth-graders ranked 36th in reading compared to their peers in other states.

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That should be sobering to state leaders, because early literacy is considered a major indicator of later academic success.

More sobering is an analysis conducted by Brian Jacob, a University of Michigan economics professor. Even when economic and social indicators (such as poverty) are taken into account, Michigan schools underperform compared with most other states.  

Michigan also had the biggest decrease in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math scores between 2003 and 2015 among all students.

“Michigan is doing worse,” Jacob said. “I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the reason is, and that’s partly because there are lots of reasons.”

Michigan’s poor performance doesn’t surprise University of Michigan early literacy researcher Nell Duke. “States vary in the degree to which their policies and practices support the education of students, including low-income students,” Duke said.

“For example, Michigan funds our schools less equitably than many other states, which affects low-income students of all races,” Duke said.  Many high-performing states give added money to poor districts because it costs more in additional staffing and resources to raise student achievement among low-income students. In Michigan, per-pupil funding is equal for students regardless of income.

Michigan also invests less in teacher continuing education than other states, Duke said.

“Our students just really don’t have the support, and in some cases our schools don’t have the staffing that some other (states) do,” said Ron Koehler, assistant superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District, which includes Grand Rapids Public Schools. “We’re last in the nation in terms of school nurses, for example. We don’t have as many social workers to deal with issues (as other states).”

Comparing the Great Lakes State with the Sunshine State offers an example of how the nitty-gritty of state policy can affect learning. While Michigan’s low-income white fourth-graders rank 49th in reading, Florida’s rank second, with reading skills almost two years ahead of similar students in Michigan. A decade ago, Florida’s fourth-graders were a year behind Michigan’s.

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One element in that turnaround: Florida invested heavily in early literacy, in additional staffing and teacher training, to the tune of $130 million in 2014 alone. By comparison, Michigan allocated $6 million for early literacy coaches in 2017.

Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2010 capping class size at 18 for kindergarten through third grade and 22 for fourth through eighth grades. Florida also has universal pre-K available to all families. Michigan’s pre-K program is available only to low- and moderate-income families, and even among those families an estimated 30,000 4-year-olds still do not have access to high-quality early education.  

In a 2014 interview with Bridge, Florida’s Foundation for Excellence In Education CEO Patricia Levesque said, “If a big state with a Michigan-size population of low-income students can improve, maybe there are some things Michigan can learn from Florida’s experience that would be useful.”

There may also be lessons closer to home, too, in a blue-collar town in northern Michigan.

Hope in an unexpected place

Cadillac is a town of 10,000 in the northwest Lower Peninsula. In the 1800s, it was known for its lumber business and locomotive manufacturing. Rock band KISS played at a homecoming dance there in 1975. Today, it’s a typical northern Michigan community, with below-average household income and educational attainment, surviving on small industries and tourism.

“I know people want to find a silver bullet in a program, but most of that turnaround was due to a shift in thinking. It really is about finding people who are committed to the work and the kids, and are willing to roll up their sleeves (and say) ‘Whatever the kids bring to school, we’re going to work with it.’” ‒ Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown

Four years ago, the Michigan Department of Education placed Cadillac’s highest-poverty school – Kenwood Elementary – in the second percentile of all Michigan schools, based on assessments and performance growth on a variety of tests and subjects.

Two years later, the school rose to the 59th percentile.

The remarkable turnaround was based partly on the school’s rising reading scores. On the 2017 M-STEP, Michigan’s state accountability test, only 29 percent of the state’s low-income fourth-graders were proficient or better in English language arts, half the rate of their wealthier classmates.

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But at high-poverty Kenwood, 62 percent of low-income fourth-graders were proficient or higher ‒ one of the highest rates for low-income students in the state.

Kenwood’s success shows that Michigan schools can improve learning, and can do it without a huge infusion of cash.

An emphasis on small group learning and data have helped turn around a struggling, low-income elementary school. (Bridge photo by Ron French)

In a small, cluttered principal’s office, Kenwood Principal Kelly Buckmaster and Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown rattled off a list of changes instituted at the school since its low-water mark in 2014.

  • Major teacher shakeup: Six of Kenwood’s 14 classroom teachers were replaced. “We gave them the option – get on board (with the plan) or (leave),” Brown said.
  • Support staff: The school added two certified teachers without classroom assignments – a behavioral specialist to head off student issues before they caused disruptions, and an instructional coach who meets with every teacher at least once a month to go over data and tweak teaching methods sort of like a batting coach on a baseball team. The Cadillac Area Public Schools district squeezed money from other programs to fill the new positions.
  • Common planning time: Teachers have time during the school week to meet to strategize classwork.
  • Food and dentists: Kenwood offers free breakfast for all students, rather than the third of students who received it before the turnaround. And a dentist visits the school twice a year for students who may not see dentists regularly.
  • Quick turnaround classroom data: “My teachers have weekly common planning time,” Buckmaster said. “One week we may be looking at math data, and another week at reading data: ‘Here’s where we want to be. Here’s the kids who got there. Here’s the kids who didn’t get there. What are we going to do to get them there? How are we going to assess that they actually got there?’”
  • Smaller groups: An emphasis on small-group and individualized instruction, to work with students who are struggling with a concept. This was more complicated than it sounds, Buckmaster said. Teachers had to prepare multiple lessons that could keep various groups active at the same time.
  • Good vibes: A culture that praises students for what they do right rather than criticizing them for what they do wrong. “When you walk into the school, you can feel the positive environment,” said third-grade teacher Kelly Baas.

“It probably doesn’t sound revolutionary,” admitted Brown. “I know people want to find a silver bullet in a program, but most of that turnaround was due to a shift in thinking. It really is about finding people who are committed to the work and the kids, and are willing to roll up their sleeves (and say) ‘Whatever the kids bring to school, we’re going to work with it.’”

“We still have all the problems,” Buckmaster said. “We just handle them differently now. We focus on what we can control.”

The reforms at Kenwood have been so successful they’ve been expanded to other elementary schools in Cadillac, with Brown squeezing dollars from the district’s budget to pay for more literacy coaches.

What happened at Kenwood can happen elsewhere, Brown said. “We can’t clone Kelly and her staff, but you don’t need to,” she said. “Teachers work hard. They’re invested. No one gets into the profession to see kids not succeed. This is scalable, if teachers are supported in the right way.”

That support includes building in time for teachers to work together to share an idea, ensuring they receive quick access to student data, and providing the money for good professional development.

“It takes a commitment to allocate resources where needs are and not just follow the same paradigm you’ve always followed,” Brown said.

The question is whether the state now has that same sense of urgency that Kenwood instructional coach Heidi Stange feels when she recalls the faces of teachers the day they learned the school was in the second percentile.

“We can’t think we have a handle on it, because then we’re losing focus,” Stange said. “It scares me when I think about us sliding.”

Different income, different reading skills

There is a frustratingly stubborn gap in the reading skills of Michigan students from low-income families and their wealthier classmates. Look up the percentage of poor students and non-poor students who were proficient or higher on the M-STEP third-grade English language arts test in 2017 by typing in the name of your school district.

DistrictPoor studentsNon-poor students
TestedPassedPercentTestedPassedPercent
Zeeland1175849.628920872
Ypsilanti2132411.321<10*
Yale553054.5765471.1
Wyoming2506325.2502346
Wyandotte15057381176555.6
Woodland School2< 10*211047.6
Woodland Park Academy38< 10*10< 10*
Woodhaven-Brownstown1756738.320113868.7
Wolverine18< 10*3< 10*
Windemere Park Charter Academy512243.1301756.7
Winans Academy58< 10*4< 10*
Williamston231147.8897280.9
William C. Abney Academy52< 10*1< 10*
Will Carleton Charter School Academy2< 10*241666.7
Whittemore-Prescott471940.47< 10*
Whitmore Lake301136.7271659.3
Whitehall753040765369.7
Whiteford9< 10*392153.8
Whitefish1< 10*0 0
White Pine Academy4< 10*6< 10*
White Pigeon41< 10*251040
White Cloud411843.917< 10*
Westwood Heights41< 10*1< 10*
Westwood131107.610< 10*
Weston24< 10*5< 10*
Western903538.91318766.4
West Village Academy42133111< 10*
West Ottawa26913851.318213373.1
West MI Academy of Environmental Science492040.8231773.9
West MI Academy of Arts and Academics20< 10*412253.7
West Iron431330.221< 10*
West Branch-Rose City944244.7433069.8
West Bloomfield902628.924115363.5
Wells Township1< 10*0 0
Webberville282071.4251872
Wayne-Westland5789416.326512045.3
Wayland Union1044442.31308162.3
Waverly1497248.3543259.3
Watervliet552138.2351645.7
Watersmeet13< 10*6< 10*
Waterford Montessori Academy5< 10*271659.3
Waterford3541313724313555.6
Washington-Parks Academy1533120.335< 10*
Warrendale Charter Academy812024.72< 10*
Warren Woods1022625.5884045.5
Warren Consolidated6261883040521252.3
Walton Charter Academy79< 10*10< 10*
Walled Lake2426024.874642557
Walkerville17< 10*4< 10*
Walker Charter Academy27< 10*473778.7
Waldron9< 10*7< 10*
Walden Green Montessori7< 10*11< 10*
Wakefield-Marenisco4< 10*12< 10*
Voyageur Academy651015.44< 10*
Vista Charter Academy641828.17< 10*
Vicksburg633352.41006969
Vestaburg24< 10*10< 10*
Vassar431125.6151066.7
Vanguard Charter Academy341132.4513160.8
Vandercook Lake752330.7311445.2
Vanderbilt Charter Academy362158.311< 10*
Vanderbilt2< 10*0 0
Van Dyke1472617.7561628.6
Van Buren1802513.91124641.1
Utica62522836.51,25078763
University Yes Academy44< 10*5< 10*
University Preparatory Science and Math (PSAD)572035.1291241.4
University Preparatory Academy (PSAD)118332821< 10*
Universal Learning Academy50153014< 10*
Universal Academy51< 10*0 0
Unionville-Sebewaing251144211257.1
Union City33< 10*251144
Ubly20< 10*161168.8
Troy1235544.780258873.3
Triumph Academy462247.8361952.8
Trillium Academy351440201470
Tri County1023029.4512752.9
Trenton41< 10*1346447.8
Traverse City29310535.842725559.7
Tipton Academy53183412< 10*
Timbuktu Academy39< 10*0 0
Timberland Academy661015.25< 10*
Three Rivers1315441.2815770.4
Three Oaks Public School Academy651116.92< 10*
Three Lakes Academy7< 10*5< 10*
Thornapple Kellogg843440.51369066.2
The Paris Academy4< 10*8< 10*
The New Standard Academy492040.85< 10*
The James and Grace Lee Boggs School7< 10*6< 10*
The Dearborn Academy441840.91< 10*
Tekonsha13< 10*6< 10*
Tecumseh723447.21529763.8
Taylor International Academy11< 10*4< 10*
Taylor Exemplar Academy551832.7271763
Taylor4138320.11174336.8
Tawas482245.8362363.9
Tahquamenon321546.9211152.4
Swartz Creek1285139.81206150.8
Swan Valley522650785367.9
Suttons Bay24< 10*7< 10*
Superior Central26< 10*6< 10*
Summit Academy North873034.5401537.5
Summit Academy24< 10*19< 10*
Summerfield15< 10*402767.5
Success Mile Academy42< 10*4< 10*
Sturgis2267734.120< 10*
Stockbridge381847.4543666.7
Stephenson17< 10*161062.5
State Street Academy15< 10*7< 10*
Starr Detroit Academy971616.57< 10*
Star International Academy1094036.712< 10*
Stanton Township11< 10*3< 10*
Standish-Sterling562646.4463269.6
St. Louis51< 10*271451.9
St. Joseph592135.61338765.4
St. Johns702535.71167564.7
St. Ignace10< 10*15< 10*
St. Charles24< 10*251872
Springport492040.821< 10*
Spring Lake282382.114612484.9
Sparta794455.7906268.9
Southwest Detroit Community School59< 10*2< 10*
Southgate1213125.61155951.3
Southfield2728330.51556843.9
South Redford1644426.8752938.7
South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy321134.4533260.4
South Lyon100303049532064.6
South Lake892730.3352057.1
South Haven762431.6613557.4
South Canton Scholars Charter Academy17< 10*704665.7
South Arbor Charter Academy17< 10*674059.7
Sodus Twp #55< 10*2< 10*
Sigel Twp. #4F3< 10*3< 10*
Shepherd642031.3733547.9
Shelby801721.312< 10*
Schoolcraft251144492959.2
Sault Ste. Marie703448.6453373.3
Saugatuck211047.6313096.8
Saranac461532.6422559.5
Sarah J. Webber Media Arts Academy21< 10*3< 10*
Sandusky411946.3332060.6
Sand Creek291344.8301860
Saline341029.431622169.9
Saginaw Township150392617010461.2
Saginaw Preparatory Academy35< 10*5< 10*
Saginaw4128420.4834250.6
Rutherford Winans Academy39< 10*0 0
Rudyard37< 10*15< 10*
Royal Oak712535.232020865
Ross-Hill Academy12< 10*1< 10*
Roseville20948231533321.6
Roscommon411331.7271244.4
Romulus1444329.9511631.4
Romeo873337.927916559.1
Rogers City191368.414< 10*
Rockford81303745728361.9
Rochester934245.294768372.1
Riverview833339.81176454.7
Riverside Academy731723.30 0
River Valley17< 10*191368.4
River Rouge961515.6351337.1
River City Scholars Charter Academy5511204< 10*
Ridge Park Charter Academy581932.8171270.6
Richmond341647.1583560.3
Richfield Public School Academy75< 10*4< 10*
Republic-Michigamme3< 10*3< 10*
Renaissance Public School Academy27< 10*201575
Regents Academy1< 10*0 0
Regent Park Scholars Charter Academy811012.31< 10*
Reeths-Puffer1515536.41327355.3
Reese321959.418< 10*
Reed City811822.2472042.6
Redford Union1142622.825< 10*
Reading32< 10*18< 10*
Reach Charter Academy601321.715< 10*
Ravenna311238.7321959.4
Rapid River5< 10*6< 10*
Quincy412048.8362158.3
Quest Charter Academy572340.4271451.9
Prevail Academy561119.613< 10*
Powell2< 10*2< 10*
Potterville251248382360.5
Posen13< 10*7< 10*
Portland4623501117769.4
Portage1506140.745633072.4
Port Huron38010527.622512153.8
Pontiac Academy for Excellence51< 10*18< 10*
Pontiac221311458< 10*
Plymouth-Canton1756637.790859966
Plymouth Scholars Charter Academy8< 10*815669.1
Plymouth Educational Center Charter School34< 10*5< 10*
Plainwell712332.41288969.5
Pittsford27< 10*10< 10*
Pine River491632.7261557.7
Pinconning591932.2382360.5
Pinckney26< 10*1226049.2
Pickford11< 10*16< 10*
Pewamo-Westphalia10< 10*11< 10*
Petoskey712433.81086963.9
Perry391230.8392564.1
Pentwater7< 10*131184.6
Pennfield752229.3724055.6
Pellston21< 10*11< 10*
Peck16< 10*8< 10*
Paw Paw652233.8835566.3
Parchment541833.3452760
Paramount Charter Academy34< 10*17< 10*
Paragon Academy552036.4301756.7
Pansophia Academy28< 10*5< 10*
Oxford621930.623212855.2
Owosso1363727.2904347.8
Owendale-Gagetown10< 10*2< 10*
Ovid-Elsie592542.4362466.7
Otsego674364.21138373.5
Oscoda651726.2171058.8
Orchard View1123833.9381744.7
Ontonagon6< 10*9< 10*
Onsted441943.2523465.4
Onekama19< 10*15< 10*
Onaway341029.419< 10*
Olivet29< 10*574273.7
Old Redford Academy1174034.221< 10*
Okemos441738.624518173.9
Ojibway Charter School7< 10*3< 10*
Oakside Scholars Charter Academy68< 10*10< 10*
Oakridge1043634.6492959.2
Oakland International44< 10*3< 10*
Oakland Academy13< 10*131184.6
Oak Park2124420.827< 10*
Novi241041.747432368.1
Nottawa6< 10*11< 10*
Norway-Vulcan26< 10*231252.2
Northwest1215041.31025553.9
Northville241145.851937071.3
Northview1084541.71166354.3
Northridge Academy33< 10*0 0
Northport7< 10*7< 10*
North Star Academy13< 10*14< 10*
North Saginaw Charter Academy5511203< 10*
North Muskegon251560503468
North Huron16< 10*14< 10*
North Dickinson7< 10*13< 10*
North Central11< 10*5< 10*
North Branch874147.1814859.3
North Adams-Jerome18< 10*3< 10*
Noor International Academy12< 10*131292.3
Niles1555032.31065047.2
NICE291551.7684363.2
Newaygo791417.7481939.6
New Paradigm Glazer-Loving Academy39< 10*0 0
New Paradigm College Prep12< 10*0 0
New Lothrop16< 10*352160
New Haven521223.1531630.2
New Buffalo241145.8211361.9
New Branches Charter Academy18< 10*6< 10*
New Beginnings Academy21< 10*0 0
New Bedford Academy7< 10*3< 10*
Negaunee411843.9834453
Napoleon502754453475.6
Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy15< 10*0 0
Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change13< 10*4< 10*
Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System52< 10*2< 10*
Muskegon2243013.427< 10*
Munising25< 10*23< 10*
Multicultural Academy9< 10*0 0
Mt. Pleasant963738.51387755.8
Mt. Morris125201612< 10*
Mt. Clemens Montessori Academy7< 10*432558.1
Mount Clemens571119.321< 10*
Morrice15< 10*9< 10*
Morley Stanwood67< 10*23< 10*
Morey Montessori Public School Academy6< 10*2< 10*
Morenci24< 10*16< 10*
Moran Twp3< 10*1< 10*
Montrose612032.8382257.9
Montague591627.1553869.1
Montabella41< 10*18< 10*
Monroe2656926975253.6
Mona Shores112282516810059.5
Momentum Academy10< 10*1< 10*
Mio-AuSable221045.512< 10*
Millington491428.6321753.1
Mildred C. Wells Preparatory Academy23< 10*0 0
Milan481327.1833947
Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy38< 10*1< 10*
Midland Academy of Advanced and Creative Studies5< 10*14< 10*
Midland2028240.631422371
Mid Peninsula12< 10*2< 10*
Michigan Virtual Charter Academy932931.2311754.8
Michigan Technical Academy882528.419< 10*
Michigan School for the Deaf3< 10*2< 10*
Michigan School for the Arts32< 10*1< 10*
Michigan Mathematics and Science Academy44< 10*0 0
Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy841214.3181161.1
Michigan Educational Choice Center801012.515< 10*
Michigan Connections Academy461737412663.4
Michigan Center491734.7462043.5
Metro Charter Academy612947.5241354.2
Mesick321031.312< 10*
Merritt Academy15< 10*271348.1
Merrill15< 10*8< 10*
Meridian481327.1291034.5
Menominee572442.1472246.8
Mendon241041.718< 10*
Memphis19< 10*401845
Melvindale-N. Allen Park1624729291655.2
McBain472144.7331957.6
Mayville271244.420< 10*
Mattawan511427.520214772.8
Mason Co. Eastern25< 10*7< 10*
Mason Co. Central602033.3321546.9
Mason (Monroe)442147.7332987.9
Mason (Ingham)572035.11479161.9
Marysville643453.11499865.8
Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center Academy312374.22< 10*
Martin302066.710< 10*
Marshall Academy15< 10*16< 10*
Marshall1093834.91066359.4
Marquette531935.81649054.9
Marlette451635.612< 10*
Marion21< 10*11< 10*
Marcellus231043.5131076.9
Mar Lee2010509< 10*
Maple Valley571526.329< 10*
Manton39< 10*321959.4
Manistique36< 10*15< 10*
Manistee661725.8422354.8
Manchester13< 10*401742.5
Mancelona53< 10*15< 10*
Madison-Carver Academy691420.313< 10*
Madison Academy19< 10*5< 10*
Madison (Oakland)562137.55< 10*
Madison (Lenawee)783747.4522853.8
Macomb Montessori Academy12< 10*0 0
Mackinaw City8< 10*7< 10*
MacDowell Preparatory Academy29< 10*2< 10*
Ludington832428.9704564.3
Lowell1075248.616310665
Livonia2839232.572943759.9
Livingston Classical Cyber Academy3< 10*151173.3
Litchfield5< 10*6< 10*
Linden Charter Academy75< 10*2< 10*
Linden592135.61188168.6
Lincoln Park3298626.1562442.9
Lincoln1391611.51094844
Lighthouse Academy4< 10*0 0
Light of the World Academy1< 10*17< 10*
Leslie452657.8362569.4
Les Cheneaux9< 10*7< 10*
Leland12< 10*191157.9
Legacy Charter Academy861416.32< 10*
Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy3< 10*6< 10*
Lawton402152.5362363.9
Lawrence261038.59< 10*
Laurus Academy572442.1241458.3
Lapeer1656740.61478960.5
Lansing Charter Academy701115.711< 10*
Lansing65313821.12007035
L'Anse Creuse2527730.642025761.2
L'Anse24< 10*14< 10*
Landmark Academy351440231147.8
Lamphere1142320.2933537.6
Lakewood693855.1635181
LakeVille491836.7311651.6
Lakeview (Montcalm)361438.9352571.4
Lakeview (Macomb)994444.420310149.8
Lakeview (Calhoun)1803821.11347354.5
Lakeshore (Berrien)622845.21298767.4
Lake Shore (Macomb)772228.61306449.2
Lake Orion110555044631069.5
Lake Linden-Hubbell221150181583.3
Lake Fenton361952.81126255.4
Lake City691318.8241354.2
Laingsburg18< 10*533769.8
Knapp Charter Academy491326.5301653.3
Kingston25< 10*171270.6
Kingsley472655.3544277.8
Kingsbury Country Day School3< 10*22< 10*
Keystone Academy301653.3553869.1
Keys Grace Academy39< 10*0 0
Kentwood4201854417913072.6
Kent City773748.1393076.9
Kenowa Hills1064138.7916268.1
Kelloggsville1223226.2191368.4
Kearsley1605333.1573561.4
Kalkaska823239341852.9
Kaleva Norman Dickson34< 10*10< 10*
Kalamazoo71017224.226019073.1
Joy Preparatory Academy35< 10*3< 10*
Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe Academy432046.5231356.5
Jonesville561526.8431432.6
Jo-Lewiston311651.618< 10*
Jenison1075248.623817071.4
Jefferson International Academy37< 10*3< 10*
Jefferson633352.4412458.5
Jackson2717226.61027169.6
Ithaca491530.6371745.9
Island City Academy5< 10*19< 10*
Ishpeming32< 10*12< 10*
Ironwood371745.9241250
Iron Mountain241562.5161275
Ionia Twp #22< 10*1< 10*
Ionia1195042906167.8
International Academy of Saginaw17< 10*14< 10*
International Academy Flint761215.810< 10*
Innocademy Allegan Campus5< 10*3< 10*
Innocademy8< 10*402460
Inland Lakes23< 10*171058.8
Imlay City943335.1472348.9
Ida13< 10*664872.7
ICademy Global1< 10*10< 10*
Huron Valley1585333.545627660.5
Huron Academy441125331030.3
Huron651624.61286450
Hudsonville975859.836928777.8
Hudson421433.3211152.4
Howell1345641.835722362.5
Houghton-Portage271037523771.2
Houghton Lake541120.4181055.6
Hopkins472451.1694971
Hope of Detroit Academy831720.52< 10*
Hope Academy of West Michigan34< 10*0 0
Hope Academy39< 10*10< 10*
Honey Creek Community School1< 10*272281.5
Homer621829271659.3
Holton54203714< 10*
Holt1695532.524014058.3
Holly Academy5< 10*956669.5
Holly933032.31146859.6
Holland1645936624166.1
Hillsdale Preparatory School5< 10*10< 10*
Hillsdale592542.4231356.5
Hillman21< 10*19< 10*
Highpoint Virtual Academy of Michigan48< 10*11< 10*
Highland Park Public School Academy System41< 10*5< 10*
Hesperia46< 10*27< 10*
Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (PSAD)55< 10*6< 10*
Hemlock24< 10*402255
Hazel Park1311813.7521121.2
Hastings933840.9915156
Haslett542953.714010977.9
Hartland622845.230021070
Hartford841113.114< 10*
Hart931516.1211152.4
Harrison702434.3301343.3
Harper Woods701724.322< 10*
Harper Creek872629.9956366.3
Harbor Springs7< 10*483062.5
Harbor Beach17< 10*151280
Hanover-Horton311238.7554378.2
Hanley International Academy631930.25< 10*
Hancock301550281967.9
Hamtramck Academy592745.80 0
Hamtramck1732715.64< 10*
Hamilton Academy32< 10*3< 10*
Hamilton60274515210166.4
Hale2010507< 10*
Hagar Twp #65< 10*0 0
Gwinn55< 10*22< 10*
Gull Lake511835.318111261.9
Grosse Pointe794455.741334082.3
Grosse Ile10< 10*1107971.8
Greenville1496140.91509462.7
Greater Heights Academy51< 10*1< 10*
Great Oaks Academy722636.18< 10*
Great Lakes Academy16< 10*1< 10*
Grass Lake29< 10*873439.1
Grant741216.2431944.2
Grandville1034442.722614061.9
Grand Traverse Academy20< 10*785064.1
Grand River Academy42< 10*412868.3
Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts & Technology10< 10*2< 10*
Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center15< 10*271763
Grand Rapids1,09021519.71557447.7
Grand Ledge108413826416361.7
Grand Haven1558252.925919474.9
Grand Blanc Academy47< 10*1< 10*
Grand Blanc2048240.236223966
Goodrich30< 10*1025856.9
Godwin Heights1334433.114< 10*
Godfrey-Lee1032726.25< 10*
Gobles382052.6191263.2
Global Tech Academy24< 10*1< 10*
Global Preparatory Academy20< 10*0 0
Global Heights Academy47< 10*0 0
Glenn4< 10*2< 10*
Glen Lake15< 10*271451.9
Gladwin783038.5493163.3
Gladstone452248.9564071.4
Gibraltar732635.61789955.6
George Washington Carver48< 10*4< 10*
George Crockett Academy43< 10*1< 10*
Genesee STEM Academy37< 10*4< 10*
Genesee34< 10*6< 10*
GEE White Academy44< 10*0 0
GEE Edmonson Academy25< 10*0 0
Gaylord1275341.71106256.4
Garden City1286853.11017069.3
Galesburg-Augusta441431.8341544.1
Fulton15< 10*221254.5
Fruitport1014443.6654569.2
Fremont752938.7623353.2
Freeland4016401309270.8
Frederick Douglass International Academy14< 10*2< 10*
Fraser1716437.418310356.3
Frankfort-Elberta12< 10*181477.8
Frankenmuth12< 10*613252.5
Francis Reh PSA40< 10*1< 10*
Fowlerville873439.11288062.5
Fowler9< 10*242083.3
Four Corners Montessori Academy11< 10*412151.2
Fortis Academy572645.6261557.7
Forest Park23< 10*14< 10*
Forest Hills82323963543869
Forest Area20< 10*5< 10*
Forest Academy23< 10*12< 10*
Flushing1214133.91609660
Flint4004611.529< 10*
Flat Rock552138.2744864.9
Flat River Academy6< 10*1< 10*
Flagship Charter Academy721622.22< 10*
Fitzgerald1573220.421< 10*
Ferndale961111.5462145.7
Fenton691724.61568957.1
Fennville711419.717< 10*
Faxon Language Immersion Academy3< 10*9< 10*
Farwell451840401845
Farmington1383827.551431661.5
Fairview13< 10*6< 10*
Excelsior4< 10*2< 10*
Excel Charter Academy432148.8403587.5
Ewen-Trout Creek5< 10*3< 10*
Evergreen Academy4< 10*6< 10*
Evart Public Schools381642.116< 10*
Essexville-Hampton481939.6633961.9
Escuela Avancemos!46< 10*1< 10*
Escanaba1032524.3633555.6
Engadine12< 10*2< 10*
Endeavor Charter Academy661116.711< 10*
Elm River2< 10*0 0
Ellsworth13< 10*6< 10*
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker311445.2312477.4
Elk Rapids321650503060
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy31< 10*3< 10*
Edwardsburg793645.61159885.2
Education Achievement System-EAS229114.814< 10*
Ecorse541222.26< 10*
Eau Claire572238.66< 10*
Eaton Rapids933638.7693855.1
Eaton Academy22< 10*14< 10*
Easton Twp #61< 10*6< 10*
East Shore Leadership Academy18< 10*0 0
East Lansing853844.717112271.3
East Jordan401332.5251456
East Jackson51< 10*19< 10*
East Grand Rapids7< 10*21017884.8
East Detroit135231735< 10*
East China842327.421113061.6
East Arbor Charter Academy331339.4442659.1
Eagle's Nest Academy32< 10*0 0
Eagle Crest Charter Academy432558.1423071.4
Durand571729.8311341.9
Dundee421638.1593457.6
Dryden17< 10*181161.1
Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center of Excellence701927.1281242.9
Dowagiac Union1422517.635< 10*
Dove Academy of Detroit49< 10*0 0
Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area K-12 School14< 10*12< 10*
Dexter281346.423413758.5
DeWitt421842.918311965
Detroit Service Learning Academy14330210 0
Detroit Premier Academy71< 10*4< 10*
Detroit Merit Charter Academy762938.29< 10*
Detroit Leadership Academy44< 10*0 0
Detroit Innovation Academy461021.70 0
Detroit Enterprise Academy781519.22< 10*
Detroit Edison Public School Academy1065854.710< 10*
Detroit Community Schools451635.63< 10*
Detroit Achievement Academy15< 10*0 0
Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences88< 10*8< 10*
Detroit2,9472739.34145914.3
DeTour Arts and Technology Academy2< 10*3< 10*
Detour6< 10*3< 10*
Delton-Kellogg521019.2321443.8
Deckerville38< 10*12< 10*
Decatur421638.1181161.1
Dearborn Heights #71382518.1371027
Dearborn1,17339333.534318955.1
Davison21211252.821413161.2
David Ellis Academy West581932.8211047.6
David Ellis Academy33< 10*4< 10*
Dansville14< 10*271451.9
Da Vinci Instittue18< 10*4< 10*
Croswell-Lexington733142.5695173.9
Crossroads Charter Academy241041.711< 10*
Cross Creek Charter Academy251456584679.3
Crestwood1997537.7875866.7
Crescent Academy971919.6271037
Creative Technologies Academy3< 10*18< 10*
Creative Montessori Academy451431.1492142.9
Crawford AuSable883438.6443272.7
Covert22< 10*0 0
Countryside Academy47< 10*6< 10*
Corunna842732.1452453.3
Coopersville863338.41147162.3
Constantine621727.4502346
Conner Creek Academy East51< 10*4< 10*
Concord Academy - Petoskey8< 10*8< 10*
Concord Academy - Boyne2< 10*9< 10*
Concord21< 10*201155
Comstock Park742331.1532547.2
Comstock902527.8261765.4
Commonwealth Community Development Academy27< 10*0 0
Columbia362466.7523771.2
Colon26< 10*24< 10*
Coloma662639.4331751.5
Colfax Twp.1< 10*1< 10*
Coleman27< 10*211257.1
Cole Academy15< 10*14< 10*
Coldwater1082624.1935357
Clio1316851.9985960.2
Clintondale981313.325< 10*
Clinton221045.5512651
Climax-Scotts23< 10*16< 10*
Clawson37< 10*612642.6
Clarkston1104339.141426163
Clarenceville972222.7542342.6
Clare632133.3613354.1
Chippewa Valley2808931.882145154.9
Chippewa Hills985051523261.5
Chesaning Union542546.3302376.7
Chelsea21< 10*1519059.6
Cheboygan802430332266.7
Chatfield School15< 10*392153.8
Chassell Township12< 10*10< 10*
Charyl Stockwell Academy8< 10*936468.8
Charlton Heston Academy451533.36< 10*
Charlotte953536.8815466.7
Charlevoix Montessori Academy for the Arts1< 10*0 0
Charlevoix31< 10*382360.5
Chandler Woods Charter Academy19< 10*654670.8
Chandler Park Academy15033228< 10*
Cesar Chavez Academy1574226.85< 10*
Centreville24< 10*251664
Central Montcalm771418.2501734
Central Lake9< 10*3< 10*
Central Academy381334.29< 10*
Center Line1432920.3461634.8
Cedar Springs1062624.51516543
Cassopolis471429.8201260
Cass City391128.2372670.3
Caseville11< 10*7< 10*
Carsonville13< 10*14< 10*
Carson City-Crystal37102718< 10*
Carrollton801316.331< 10*
Caro662030.3442045.5
Carney-Nadeau13< 10*6< 10*
Carman-Ainsworth2097234.4583051.7
Capac31< 10*331236.4
Canton Charter Academy11< 10*705274.3
Caniff Liberty Academy32< 10*1< 10*
Camden-Frontier221254.516< 10*
Calumet583153.4483470.8
Caledonia66355324717872.1
Cadillac1438458.7937479.6
Byron Center Charter School9< 10*171270.6
Byron Center774355.823519984.7
Byron311238.7271451.9
Burton Glen Charter Academy771215.64< 10*
Burt Township3< 10*0 0
Burr Oak18< 10*6< 10*
Bullock Creek562442.9644671.9
Buckley15< 10*14< 10*
Buchanan611626.2522650
Brown City391743.6261973.1
Bronson511835.3271451.9
Britton Deerfield23< 10*12< 10*
Brimley29< 10*14< 10*
Brighton714056.335625872.5
Bridgman26< 10*382155.3
Bridgeport-Spaulding70< 10*20< 10*
Bridge Academy761215.80 0
Breitung Twp573052.6714867.6
Breckenridge27< 10*221359.1
Brandywine561323.2371745.9
Brandon652132.3945154.3
Branch Line School5< 10*12< 10*
Bradford Academy64< 10*12< 10*
Boyne Falls5< 10*1< 10*
Boyne City442147.7543972.2
Bloomingdale682536.86< 10*
Bloomfield Hills21< 10*32221767.4
Blissfield281242.9552952.7
Black River Public School17< 10*522650
Birmingham421126.252234365.7
Birch Run772735.1572645.6
Big Rapids653249.2744763.5
Big Jackson4< 10*1< 10*
Big Bay De Noc13< 10*5< 10*
Bessemer211257.1292586.2
Berrien Springs853237.6351954.3
Berlin Twp #32< 10*2< 10*
Berkley441534.127115858.3
Benzie Co. Central672029.9472553.2
Benton Harbor Charter School Academy47< 10*0 0
Benton Harbor125< 10*25< 10*
Bentley46< 10*15< 10*
Bendle863034.92< 10*
Bellevue331339.413< 10*
Bellaire7< 10*13< 10*
Belding862124.4432353.5
Beecher61< 10*5< 10*
Bedford813138.321314668.5
Beaverton47< 10*15< 10*
Bear Lake8< 10*9< 10*
Beal City19< 10*28< 10*
Bay City Academy27< 10*12< 10*
Bay City3361043122410747.8
Battle Creek Montessori Academy11< 10*4< 10*
Battle Creek2573312.835< 10*
Bath371745.9523261.5
Bark River311135.515< 10*
Baraga10< 10*6< 10*
Bangor Twp (Bay)1033029.1653452.3
Bangor Twp #82< 10*0 0
Bangor (Van Buren)761418.411< 10*
Baldwin441227.36< 10*
Bad Axe341338.2261661.5
Avondale902628.91428056.3
AuTrain-Onota3< 10*0 0
August Academy1< 10*1< 10*
Au Gres-Sims251352151173.3
Atlanta16< 10*6< 10*
Atherton43< 10*2< 10*
Athens221045.5251768
Ashley13< 10*5< 10*
Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac33< 10*19< 10*
Armada331030.3895056.2
Arenac Eastern4< 10*0 0
Arbor Academy311135.57< 10*
Ann Arbor Learning Community4< 10*10< 10*
Ann Arbor2827727.387663372.3
Anchor Bay924751.129517860.3
American Montessori Academy41< 10*341338.2
American International Academy41< 10*4< 10*
Alpena1365036.81105650.9
Almont291862.1725576.4
Alma892528.1653249.2
Allendale622032.31519562.9
Allen Park773342.91759755.4
Allegan1174235.9583560.3
Algonac482041.7713853.5
Alcona341235.312< 10*
Alba12< 10*1< 10*
Alanson12< 10*7< 10*
Akron-Fairgrove141071.43< 10*
Airport882933884247.7
Advanced Technology Academy751317.38< 10*
Adrian1444833.3633250.8
Addison391743.6281139.3
Adams Township231147.8151066.7
Achieve Charter Academy121083.3745777
Academy of Warren69< 10*3< 10*
Academy of International Studies31< 10*4< 10*
Academy for Business and Technology541018.55< 10*
Statewide54,17015,75629.150,08030,24460.4

* Not published by the state.

Source: 2016-17 M-Step results from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information

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Comments

Arjay
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 9:09am

“ ....... Michigan schools can improve learning and can do it without a huge infusion of cash.” Heresy to the MEA union leaders and to a large number of liberals, but the results don’t lie.

Mary Fox
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:23pm

You are deluded if you do not think pay matters. Michigan is losing teachers because NOBODY IS GOING TO PAY 60000-100000 for a degree to make 36000, with poor benefits and no pension or job security. Right-wingers are whining now about shortages.

Arjay
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:30pm

And maybe each slice of the pie would be larger if there weren’t so many people eating pie. When I went to school granted over 50 years ago there were very few non-classroom people in the building. Today there are more out of the classroom than in it, thanks to the MEA demands and weak school boards that cave.

Matt
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:30pm

Mary, I don't see it stated that pay doesn't matter. But you are right, colleges have priced themselves out of line with the incomes many of their grads are likely to make when out in the real world especially when starting out. But to your point, and not begrudging anyone, Michigan has among the highest average pay for teachers in the country, especially when adjusted to reflect our very low cost of living.

Mary Fox
Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:29pm

I repeat. NO ONE IS GOING TO PAY 60000 -100000 TO GET A DEGREE THAT STARTS ON AVERAGE AT 36000 A YEAR WITH POOR BENEFITS AND POOR RETIREMENT. Michigan's are skew by older staff. Younger staff is not being paid as teachers were in the past and in the next ten years unless something changes, Michigan will be screwed as far as teachers are concerned. Colleges have the same problem. Nobody is going to get a phd for a part-time job.

duane
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:08pm

Mary,

What is surprising is that you see nothing in this article or the Cadillac experience that interests you. You only respond to a comment about money.
The Cadillac experience proves that the culture is critical before anything else including money. The kids see and feel the culture they don't see the money, they respond to the culture not to the money. Why is that so important, the kids do the learning not the teachers or staff.
Have you ever been in a classroom that all the students were getting A's or have they always has a distribution of academic success [A's, B's, C's]? The reality was everything was the same [even the money spent] and yet performance varied. The only difference was the students, they expectations of themselves, the effort they made, and that was all a reaction to their individual cultures. In the case of Cadillac they have create the school culture and made it one of significant impact.

If you want more money, we need to see success. We will support success, it is the continue whine for money while deteriorating performance that causes dwindling support for money to the schools. In my district we now have a fight between the Board and Superintendent [union is in the fight to] over money and declining enrollment and during this bickering no one raise the idea of student learning, it is simply adults talking to adults about money.

Get over the money, learn from Cadillac to start delivering results, then ask for money.

Matt
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 9:45am

Glad see articles showcasing schools that successfully address their problems. And can't help noticing that they didn't sit around crying that they weren't getting any help from the Governor, State Leg. and State Board of Ed and therefore can't do anything. They saw their situation, found money in their existing budget and took action. This can't be the only one out there.

RICK
Sun, 04/29/2018 - 4:27pm

A quick solution, in addition to solutions like those in the article, is to vote out the Republicans who have contributed so much to the total deterioration of our schools (and our roads and other infrastructure). They have just cut and cut in order to repeatedly give the corporations and wealthy more money. The middle class has been hit hard by this kind of short sighted, upward income focussed mentality.
Take look at this article (and most Republicans won't even look at it I suspect):
https://www.vox.com/2018/4/25/17276284/arizona-teacher-strike-tax-cut-fu...
Note that Michigan is on the list of GOP led states where education was sacrificed on the tax cuts for the wealthy altar.

Matt
Tue, 05/01/2018 - 3:38pm

Somehow I missed it that political parties had anything to do with this school's wonderful success. Of course it helps not being fixated on Republicans, Snyder, DeVoses, Koches or any the rest of your Boogie Men. Have you considered a different hobby, maybe fishing?

Dan Moerman
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 9:55am

A milennium ago when I took my daughter to kindergarten, I sat around for a few days, just to watch. I had discussed school with my daughter, and learned that she wanted to "learn how to write my name in script." Sounded good to me. But in that classroom, I saw a young boy who, apparently, didn't know just what a crayon was. He fumbled with it, clearly not knowing which end was up. I realized that this lovely little boy had never had a crayon, or a pencil, let alone a felt pen. I'm not sure what his family income was. . . His father worked for the city, and a real benefit of having him as a neighbor was that ours was one of the very first neighborhoods to have our snow plowed. Any thing more I were to say would be pure guess work. But imagine a 5-year old who doesn't know how to color in a bunny. I do believe that the single most important thing a parent can do for pre-schoolers is read to them every day. Even if one has to read the same book 300 times. Because after about 200 times, s/he will be able to "read" it to you, and will have memorized the way the written words sound. And for heaven sakes, kids' crayons should be deductable on your income tax!!

Ben Laird
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:45pm

I enjoyed this article on education. I am retired Michigan teacher with 32 years in the classroom. Teacher pay in Michigan is not the issue. Thank God for the MEA!
So teacher pay is not the issue but funding our schools IS one of the major public education issues in Michigan.
This article points out equitable funding is an issue.
“Michigan funds our schools less equitably than many other states, which affects low-income students of all races,” Duke said. Many high-performing states give added money to poor districts because it costs more in additional staffing and resources to raise student achievement among low-income students.”
This article also points out other states target their funding more effectively than Michigan.
“Florida invested heavily in early literacy, in additional staffing and teacher training, to the tune of $130 million in 2014 alone. By comparison, Michigan allocated $6 million for early literacy coaches in 2017.
Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2010 capping class size at 18 for kindergarten through third grade and 22 for fourth through eighth grades. Florida also has universal pre-K available to all families. Michigan’s pre-K program is available only to low- and moderate-income families, and even among those families an estimated 30,000 4-year-olds still do not have access to high-quality early education.”
This article does not point out the gap between the actual annual per pupil cost of educating a student in Michigan and the actual annual per pupil investment Michigan makes in it’s children. Current data indicates this gap is at least $1000 less per student every year compared to states with students scoring higher on standardized testing.
My experience over the years has been that as Michigan has not kept up with funding the actual cost of education professional educators and local school boards have forced to make tough choices in how to cut costs. Usually this cost cutting involves eliminating “unnecessary” staff.
This article does point to this issue.
“Our students just really don’t have the support, and in some cases our schools don’t have the staffing that some other (states) do,” said Ron Koehler, assistant superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District, which includes Grand Rapids Public Schools. “We’re last in the nation in terms of school nurses, for example. We don’t have as many social workers to deal with issues (as other states).”

Great Job Bridge Magazine!
Ben Laird

duane
Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:58am

Why is this article the exception, it talks about results, about success, and yet they didn't get a sudden infusion of money to deliver this change in results, while almost all others start with money, more money and never talk about performance/learning results?

I learned a long time ago that when asking others for money [whether for my pay, for a new project, for improvements in the service/facility] the results were always presented first and if the results met expectations then I was asked about how much money, what kind of resources, what types of support.
Why is Michigan education different, why are results always the last thing talked about, why is it about how bad things are, how bad they will get, we are so bad when compared to others?

As best I can tell the there are tens of thousands of students that learn enough from public education to go on to college, earn degrees, and compete internationally for employment. How is that with such success what we have is described as so bad?

I wonder how many elementary school principles across Michigan has spent the inordinate sum for a phone call to Cadillac to simply ask and listen about what they have done differently?

With all your years experience, within the classroom was there a distribution of learning success or did all the students learn equally? If there was a curve of success, what did you attribute it to?

Ben Laird
Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:47pm

I enjoyed this article on education. I am retired Michigan teacher with 32 years in the classroom. Teacher pay in Michigan is not the issue. Thank God for the MEA!
So teacher pay is not the issue but funding our schools IS one of the major public education issues in Michigan.
This article points out equitable funding is an issue.
“Michigan funds our schools less equitably than many other states, which affects low-income students of all races,” Duke said. Many high-performing states give added money to poor districts because it costs more in additional staffing and resources to raise student achievement among low-income students.”
This article also points out other states target their funding more effectively than Michigan.
“Florida invested heavily in early literacy, in additional staffing and teacher training, to the tune of $130 million in 2014 alone. By comparison, Michigan allocated $6 million for early literacy coaches in 2017.
Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2010 capping class size at 18 for kindergarten through third grade and 22 for fourth through eighth grades. Florida also has universal pre-K available to all families. Michigan’s pre-K program is available only to low- and moderate-income families, and even among those families an estimated 30,000 4-year-olds still do not have access to high-quality early education.”
This article does not point out the gap between the actual annual per pupil cost of educating a student in Michigan and the actual annual per pupil investment Michigan makes in it’s children. Current data indicates this gap is at least $1000 less per student every year compared to states with students scoring higher on standardized testing.
My experience over the years has been that as Michigan has not kept up with funding the actual cost of education professional educators and local school boards have forced to make tough choices in how to cut costs. Usually this cost cutting involves eliminating “unnecessary” staff.
This article does point to this issue.
“Our students just really don’t have the support, and in some cases our schools don’t have the staffing that some other (states) do,” said Ron Koehler, assistant superintendent of Kent Intermediate School District, which includes Grand Rapids Public Schools. “We’re last in the nation in terms of school nurses, for example. We don’t have as many social workers to deal with issues (as other states).”

Great Job Bridge Magazine!
Ben Laird

Mike
Sun, 04/29/2018 - 10:55am

This is a good story, a story of local success and children who are better prepared, yet the comments, as usual, show a sharp divide, an unnecessary divide.

It is unfortunate that is the case. The success is based on some new ideas and some old ideas.

Teachers who were unwilling to change were let go. Teachers and staff worked as a team. Kids had food and health care at the school so their basic needs were met, without an income test. Students were held to a standard and given the means and tools to achieve that standard. The State legislature stayed out of their way.

I'd ask the commentators, rather than taking shots at each other to think how these lessons could be applied in their school districts

Barbara Gottschalk
Mon, 04/30/2018 - 9:25am

From 2nd to 59th percentile in two years? This is an extremely rapid gain, almost statistically improbable. I'd have to see additional data before I believe this.