Socioeconomic information provides better ranking of state's schools
Michigan parents who want to know how their elementary and middle schools perform in the state can now get a better ranking thanks to a study released last week.
The study, which ranks 2,362 elementary and middle schools across the state, takes poverty levels into account to better examine schools on an "apples-to-apples" basis, said Audrey Spalding, education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
This study follows the release earlier this year of the high school report card, which provides a comprehensive list of the public and charter public schools in the state. On both studies, each school is graded on a scale from A to F.
Spalding said the study was a “simple and accurate measure of school performance.” The report is searchable for elementary and middle schools from 2009-2012 by school district, school or county.
Socioeconomic information is used in this comparison by using federal student lunch program information. In addition to income data, MEAP scores compiled by the state also are used. Studies have shown that children's educational performance relies heavily on socioeconomic factors.
The results often give a different picture than that provided by the state. Schools such as Detroit’s Thirkell Elementary, which the Michigan Department of Education’s report gives poor assessments, are instead shown to perform at an impressive level.
As an overview, Spalding said the study demonstrates that schools in “town settings” perform the best relative to their geographic counterparts. Other notable results include the strength of the schools in the Dearborn district and of charter public school performance.