Cities Journal

These Are Michigan’s Best Elementary And Middle Schools


Finding out which schools are the best in a certain state or a certain city can be quite an ordeal. Studies are often biased and champion causes that might not agree with what matters to you. Other times, they do not factor in some very significant aspects that you find crucial.

That is why the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is an important source of information for Michigan parents. It is a nonpartisan research and education institute which undertakes comprehensive studies of the various parts of Michigan’s public life. Among other things, they also do something called The Context and Performance Report Card: Public Elementary and Middle Schools. They just released the 2015 study and it is quite a read.

In short, this report is all about ranking more than 2,000 schools in different cities and towns around the state of Michigan, looking at a number of factors that are envisioned as the most precise indications of the state of each of the schools.

One of the ways in which this report is different from most other studies of the kind is that it takes into consideration the context in which a certain school functions, i.e. the economic and sociological factors that can affect the school’s academic results. In addition to this, the report does not look at short-term results and implications, as it presents the results obtained over the course of two years.

It would take too long to explain the exact methodology of the study and the subsequent report (the majority of the results depended on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests), but in the end, different schools around Michigan were given a CAP Score (the highest being 132.49), a CAP Grade (from A to F) and a State Rank.

According to the results of the Mackinac’s Context and Performance Report Card, the best school in Michigan is the Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center Academy in Detroit. This chartered school has just under 300 students and it supplies free lunch to almost 85 of them. It garnered the total CAP Score of 132.49 for the CAP Grade A and the #1 spot in the state-wide rankings.

The second best school in Michigan is another Detroit school, the Ross-Hill Academy-Elementary. Another charter school, it enrolls 121 students and it received a CAP Score of 130.56, for an A Cap Grade.

The third best school is North Goodwin Elementary School in Wyoming, the largest suburb of Grand Rapids. This conventional elementary school came in third by just so much, scoring 130.48 on the CAP Scores, earning another A CAP grade.

The fourth best school on the list is located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights – the Crestwood Accelerated Program. This selective school has an enrollment of only 77 and it provides some of the best education in the Detroit Metro area.

The fifth best school according to the Mackinac report is the Iris Becker Elementary School in the city of Dearborn. It has just under 300 students and it is the last school on the list with a CAP score of over 130.

The first rural school to find its place on the list is at No. 29 – the Sister Lakes Elementary School in Dowagiac, with a CAP Score of 116.89.

The fifteen worst schools in the State are found in Detroit and another 29 of the city’s schools are in the bottom 100.

The worst five schools include the Burns Elementary-Middle School, the EMAN Hamilton Academy, the Phoenix Elementary-Middle School, the Law Elementary School and the Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School with the CAP Scores of 71.16, 73.55, 73.93, 74.69 and 75.18, respectively.

One of the most daunting facts is that six of the seven lowest ranked schools in the state are run by the Education Achievement Authority, a statewide system formed a few years ago in order to try and save failing schools in Michigan. Of course, some of this has to do with the fact that the EAA “inherited” schools that have already been doing poorly, but somehow we have a feeling that something should have improved over the 5 years the EAA has been in charge.

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