UCS analyzes its Top-to-Bottom rankings

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 26, 2014

STERLING HEIGHTS — Another set of state school rankings is topping off the last days of summer vacation in the Utica Community Schools.

UCS received its 2013-14 Top-to-Bottom rankings for its schools in August from the Michigan Department of Education. The rankings are a key component of the state’s school accountability data.

According to the state, the Top-to-Bottom rankings judge school performance based on high school graduation rates, when applicable, as well as academic scores in math, reading, science, social studies and writing. Achievement gaps among student groups also are measured.

Top-to-Bottom scores are based on a percentile rank that can range from a high of 99 to a low of 0. Percentile rank means that a school outperformed that percentage of ranked schools in the state.

Among the four main UCS high schools, Eisenhower scored the highest Top-to-Bottom percentile rank with a 73. Then came Henry Ford II with a percentile rank of 63. Stevenson received a percentile rank of 52. Utica High School scored a 39.

Top percentile scorers among the district’s Top-to-Bottom scores included Messmore Elementary (98), Duncan Elementary (95), Malow Junior High (93), Ebeling Elementary (89), Beck Elementary (88), Eppler Junior High (87), Morgan Elementary (86), Crissman Elementary (85), Burr Elementary (83) and Beacon Tree Elementary (81).

Among UCS’ lower-scoring schools on the Top-to-Bottom list were Jeannette Junior High (28), Schuchard Elementary (26), Harvey Elementary (22) and West Utica Elementary (15).

Four UCS schools — Eppler, Burr, Messmore and Duncan — were named reward schools, which means they were either in the top 5 percent of judged schools in the Top-to-Bottom list, had significant measures of improvement or defied expectations compared to their predicted rank.

According to UCS, other schools were labeled “focus schools,” which means they had the widest achievement gaps between top-performing and bottom-performing students.

According to the state, UCS’ focus schools were Stevenson High, Davis Junior High, Jeannette Junior High, Harvey Elementary, Plumbrook Elementary, Utica High and West Utica Elementary.

Superintendent Christine Johns said UCS welcomes the diverse experiences of its students and works diligently to close achievement gaps.

“We take the Top-to-Bottom list very seriously,” she said, adding that “we look at student participation in Advanced Placement courses (and) students participating in early college, career and technical education.”

Johns said the district has identified schools and has made headway into making them more successful, such as Burr Elementary.

“They are now a reward school,” she said. “They have met their benchmarks and beyond.”

Robert Monroe, UCS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said UCS is using an assessment process from an educational services firm, Northwest Evaluation Association, to further help the district become aware of students’ learning needs.

“What we’re looking at each year (is) we’re always looking for continuous growth for all of our students,” he said.

Learn more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.