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February 12, 2014

RCS recognized as over-achieving district

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

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Hart Middle School eighth-graders Jack Lindner and Jared Pitt combing through articles to look for facts to include in their eighth-grade research papers. Lindner’s topic is arming commercial pilots, and Pitt’s topic is gun control.

ROCHESTER — Rochester Community Schools ranks among the top 50 public and charter school districts in Michigan, according to a new report by Bridge Magazine.

The online magazine ranked RCS 34th among the 540 K-12 school systems analyzed in its third annual Academic State Champs report.

RCS Community Relations Director Debbi Hartman said there are many different organizations and publications that rank schools, and they all seem to use a different rating system.

“We’re always pleased that we show well in the rankings,” she said. “We’re very proud of our students and our staff.”

The ranking system used by Bridge Magazine in its latest report was a three-year average of state test scores for fourth, eighth and 11th grades. Each district was then given an overall score based on how its test scores compared to districts with similar percentages of students qualifying for subsidized lunch, according to the online magazine.

Ron French, a Bridge Magazine reporter who oversaw the project, said that, essentially, Bridge’s Academic State Champs are being recognized for over-achievement, rather than achievement. An Academic Champs score of 100 indicates a school’s students are achieving at expected levels for their income level. The higher the score, the better a school’s students are performing on standardized tests.

RCS received an Academic Champs score of 108.77.

Bloomfield Hills Schools, which ranked seventh and received an Academic Champs score of 113.17, was the magazine’s top ranked district in Oakland County. Other nearby districts included in the rankings were districts in Troy (15th), Birmingham (56th), Lake Orion (81st), Royal Oak (209th) and the Avondale School District (266th).

While many affluent districts thrive, Bridge officials said the value-added system indicates that many poorer districts are doing just as much with far less. The low-income schools that over-achieved and tested better than other schools that were low-income ranked higher on the list, and some districts with higher raw scores ranked lower than some higher-poverty districts with lower test scores.

“From big cities to farming communities, quality education is occurring in every corner of Michigan,” John Bebow, president of The Center for Michigan, which publishes Bridge Magazine, said in a statement. “Our Academic State Champions series takes a close look at what these schools are doing right, in the hopes that their success can be reproduced throughout the state.”

A complete list of results, including an overview of the methodology used, can be found on the Bridge Magazine website at http://bridgemi.com.

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