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August 28, 2013

Several RCS buildings named Reward Schools in MDE’s Top to Bottom ranking

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — The Michigan Department of Education recently released its second annual Top to Bottom ranking of all Michigan schools.

The Top to Bottom ranking is a list of all schools across the state designated as Reward, Focus and Priority schools, based on student proficiency and achievement; academic growth; achievement gaps in math, reading, writing, science and social studies; and graduation rates for high school buildings.

“Last year, we had schools on the Focus list that actually, this year, moved to the Reward list, which was interesting, so obviously they made some changes in the calculation and how they arrived at those numbers,” said Debbi Hartman, director of community relations for Rochester Community Schools.

Reward schools are those in the top 5 percent of rankings with the top 5 percent making marked academic progress over the previous four years. Beating the Odds schools, those schools either outperforming their expected ranking or outperforming other similarly situated schools, also are Reward Schools.

“Reward schools are shining examples for others on how to lead student achievement,” state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement.

The following RCS schools have been designated as Reward Schools: Brewster Elementary, Delta Kelly Elementary, Hugger Elementary, Long Meadow Elementary, Musson Elementary, North Hill Elementary, University Hills Elementary, Hart Middle School, Van Hoosen Middle Schools, West Middle and Rochester Adams High School.

Focus Schools are the 10 percent of Michigan schools having the widest gap in student achievement between the lowest- and highest-performing students. The district’s Focus Schools, which Hartman said are all Title I buildings, include Brooklands Elementary, Hampton Elementary, McGregor Elementary and Reuther Middle School.

Hartman said it’s important to note that a school receiving a focus school designation does not mean students are in a low-performing school. She said the district sent letters to Focus School parents to alert them of the designation and explain what is being done specifically to address the achievement gap.

“I want to emphasize that, in some cases, in some subject areas, even though the students were in that gap area, they were still proficient, so it’s possible, depending on a school’s overall proficiency, for there to be a gap between the highest-performing and the lowest-performing. There are still kids who are in the lowest-performing who are actually scoring proficient; its just that the other kids are scoring sufficiently higher, so it creates that gap that the state is looking at,” Hartman added.

RCS had no Priority schools: those in the bottom 5 percent of the rankings and any high school with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for three consecutive years.

But not every school fits into one of the three Top to Bottom categories, according to the MDE.  RCS, Hamlin Elementary, Meadow Brook Elementary, Rochester High School and Stoney Creek High School did not fit into any of the three categories.

“They were not in the top, so they weren’t Reward Schools, but they don’t have a sufficient gap to be a Focus School,” Hartman explained.

For more information about Reward, Focus and Priority Schools, visit www.rochester.12.mi.us under the Schools tab.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.