Scores of scores

The new state school scoring index is here. See how Detroit schools stacked up.

A new 0-100 state scoring system appears to be a fairer measure of how schools are doing, but most of Detroit’s schools still ended up at the bottom of the list.

Unlike the old, statewide top-to-bottom list, which ranked schools based largely on the percentage of students who were able to pass annual state exams, this system measures schools on an index from 0-100 points based on seven weighted categories, with the heaviest weight given to growth.

It’s part of the Michigan Department of Education’s Parent Dashboard. The index was pitched as a more nuanced take on school scoring — a middle ground between giving schools a singular A-F grade and not scoring them at all.

The highest-rated high school in Detroit was Renaissance High School, with a 87.6. Cass Technical High School was close behind with a 81.17, and Detroit Edison Public School Academy – High School, a charter school near Detroit’s Eastern Market, was third with 66.08.

The highest-rated elementary and middle schools in Detroit were two charter schools — the Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA) with a 92.16 and Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center Academy with a 91.34. A selective district school, Bates Academy, came in third at 81.89.

The new system does not rank schools — some schools can receive the same scores. But DEPSA, Martin Luther King Education Center Academy and Renaissance were the only three schools in Detroit that were among the top quarter of Michigan schools.

The state said schools with an index score below 30.64 are identified as problem schools. About 15 percent of Detroit charters scored below that, while about half of Detroit district schools scored that low. Roughly 7 percent of charters scored above a 70 on the index, while about 5 percent of district schools did.

The vast majority of Detroit schools — both district and charters — scored poorly compared to schools statewide.

The weighted scores were divided into categories: 34 percent based on growth, 29 percent on academic proficiency, 14 percent on what schools offer and how well they are run, 10 percent on graduation rates, 10 percent on the performance of English Language Learners, and 3 percent based on how many students are tested.

The category that carries the most weight, growth, has been called a fairer approach to school scoring.

There are multiple ways to use test scores to measure a school. While the top-to-bottom list was based almost exclusively on proficiency — the percentage of students who demonstrated on tests that they are performing at grade level in reading and math — the new system gives significant weight to growth. Growth measures students’ improvement or decline on tests from one year to the next.

This matters more in lower-achieving districts like Detroit because children might start school farther behind, without having learned their numbers or the alphabet, says Sarah Lenhoff, a Wayne State University education researcher.

“Growth over time, and how much students are learning over the course of a year, it’s a more accurate indicator of school quality than just looking at straight achievement levels,” Lenhoff said.

“What you want to see is schools serving kids coming to schools behind, that they’re growing at a higher rate to catch them up,” she said.  

The new index was created to comply with new federal law in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which pushed states to create new school accountability plans.

The Michigan Department of Education “spent a lot of time collaborating with external stakeholders and getting feedback on student equity in developing this new system,” a state spokesman said.  

The index has a search bar to find specific schools and a colorful page with seven categories to quickly and easily find scores; however, there is no easy way to compare categories in different schools.

The top ten Detroit schools according to the new index:

  • Detroit Edison Public School Academy, charter, (elementary school) 92.16
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center Academy, charter, 91.34
  • Renaissance High School, district, 87.6
  • Bates Academy, district, 81.89
  • Cass Technical High School, district, 81.17
  • Cesar Chavez Academy Elementary East, charter, 77.78
  • New Paradigm College Prep, charter, 75.41
  • Hope of Detroit Academy Elementary, charter, 74.41
  • Charles Wright School, district, 73.38
  • Bridge Academy West, charter, 70.92

Search through our table to compare different index scores for all schools in Michigan. 

Who's leaving?

63 teachers are leaving Detroit’s main district. Here’s a list of their names and former schools.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Is your child’s favorite teacher saying goodbye to the Detroit Public Schools Community District?

Last week, Detroit’s main district released the names of 63 teachers and 55 building staff members who retired or resigned by the end of June. We have a list of their names and the schools where they worked.

Rather than leave classrooms during the school year, teachers typically choose to retire or switch school districts while students are on break. This is only the first wave of departures expected this summer — one reason schools in Detroit are racing to hire certified teachers by the fall.

But for Detroit families, the teachers on this list are more than a number. Scroll down to see if an educator who made a difference in your child’s life — or your own — is leaving the district.

Teacher and staff separations in June 2018. Source: Detroit Public Schools Community District

Sharing Stories

Tell us your stories about children with special needs in Detroit

PHOTO: Patrick Wall

Parents of students with special needs face difficult challenges when trying to get services for their children. Understanding their children’s rights, getting them evaluated and properly diagnosed, and creating an educational plan are among the many issues families face.

Chalkbeat Detroit wants to hear more about those issues to help inform our coverage. We are kicking off a series of conversations called a “listening tour” to discuss your concerns, and our first meeting will focus on children with special needs and disabilities. We’re partnering with the Detroit Parent Network as they look for solutions and better ways to support parents.

Our listening tour, combined with similar events in other communities Chalkbeat serves, will continue throughout this year on a variety of topics. In these meetings, we’ll look to readers, parents, educators, and students to help us know what questions we should ask, and we’ll publish stories from people who feel comfortable having their stories told. We hope you’ll share your stories and explore solutions to the challenges parents face.

Our special education listening tour discussion will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday July 24, at the Detroit Parent Network headquarters, 726 Lothrop St., Detroit.

As our series continues, we’ll meet at locations around the city to hear stories and experiences parents have while navigating the complexities of getting children the education and services they deserve.

Next week’s event includes a panel discussion with parents of children with special needs, responses from parent advocates, and an open discussion with audience members.

Those who are uncomfortable sharing stories publicly will have a chance to tell a personal story on an audio recorder in a private room, or will be interviewed by a Chalkbeat Detroit reporter privately.

The event is free and open to anyone who wants to attend, but reservations are required because space is limited. To register, complete this form, call 313-309-8100 or email frontdesk@detroitparentnetwork.org.

If you can’t make our event, but have a story to share, send an email to tips.detroit@chalkbeat.org, or call or send a text message to 313-404-0692.

Stayed tuned for more information about listening tour stops, topics and locations.