Is Your School an Academic State Champ?

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Feb. 11, 2015

Bridge Magazine recently released its first-ever Academic State Champs awards for 100+ individual schools across Michigan. More than 3,200 schools (traditional public schools and charters) were judged on state and national test scores over a three-year period, with student income levels factored in for each school. The top 5 percent were recognized for getting the most potential out of their students when these socioeconomic factors are considered.

Bridge and MLive have been awarding State Champs awards to school districts for the past four years, but this is the first time they "have been able to gather enough school-level test score trends and poverty data to rank individual elementary, middle and high schools," according to the announcement.

The rankings look at school performance from a different perspective. It’s not a coincidence that some of Michigan’s school districts with the highest raw test scores are in wealthy communities, and that struggling districts are in low-income communities. These awards attempts to level the playing field by considering income. Essentially, Bridge was gauging how well school districts and charters perform compared with other schools with the same level of income.

"Academic State Champs is just one approach in the difficult task of judging school performance," Bridge notes. "But we do think it’s valuable for schools (and the families attending those schools) to know how they are performing compared to their peers, which we’re defining as schools with similar rates of poverty."

This year's analysis also uncovers schools that are not getting good results for their students, including a number of charter schools as well as way too many schools from Detroit.

The analysis was made possible by underwriting from Herman Miller Cares (donors and underwriters to Bridge and its parent, the nonprofit Center for Michigan, have no control over editorial content). As with the district rankings, the methodology and data analysis were independently developed by Public Sector Consultants, a public policy research firm in Lansing, and take into account the impact of poverty by analyzing how schools across Michigan perform compared with schools of similar socioeconomic levels, an acknowledgement of the debilitating impact that poverty typically has on student achievement.

Access the full series, including articles on giving parents the tools to truly compare schools, why a school was selected, stories about the winners and more on the Bridge Magazine website.

Also, let us know if a school(s) in your district was an award recipient. We would love to feature them in the Member Kudos section of DashBoard. Send an email with the school name(s) and contact information to

Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

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