One of the outstanding features of the Northville community and one that attracted many of us to move here was the Northville Public Schools (NPS). NPS has traditionally provided our students with an excellent learning opportunity and, by and large, most of our students have graduated from Northville High School (NHS) and gone on to attain a successful college education and/or career. However, as the famous quotation says, “you’re either getting better or getting worse, you cannot stay the same”. Should we expect even more of our high school?
Recently the state Board of Education released the results of the 2011 Michigan Merit Examination (MME)/ACT test scores for all of the Michigan 11th graders. Based upon the raw scores, NHS students placed in the 90th percentile which means that 90 percent of Michigan schools placed lower than NHS. This is an excellent record. However, there is another way to look at these scores.
When we compare these test results to other school districts, we will most often look at districts located in communities similar to Northville, districts such as Novi, Bloomfield Hills, and the Grosse Pointes. One reason we compare ourselves to these districts is because we inherently know that there is a direct correlation
between socioeconomic factors and success in school. This correlation has been proven. The poorer the population in a school district, the lower the expectation of the standardized test scores.
Recently, the Mackinac Center in Midland, MI, published a study in which they developed a ranking of all of the public high schools in Michigan based upon the past three years of the Michigan Merit Examination which includes the ACT tests taken each year by all eleventh grade students. However, rather than simply looking at only the raw test scores, they adjusted these scores to account for the disparities in the socioeconomic status of the districts’ student population. The study is called the “Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card (CAP).
The socioeconomic status that the CAP Report Card uses is measured by the percentage of the student population that qualifies for free or reduced price lunches under the federal government’s National School Lunch Program. Utilizing regression testing, they determined how well a school should perform on the tests and then ranked each district as to whether they performed better or worse than projected. Schools with a CAP score of 100 means that their test scores were as projected based upon their school lunch program participation. The goal of this study was to provide an “apples to apples” comparison of school districts scores.
According to this study, the top public high school in the state is the Star International Academy which is a charter public school in Dearborn Heights. Their CAP Score was 140.8, or 40.8 percentage points higher than the projected score.
Northville High School, with a CAP score of 106.5, had a ranking of 95 out of 273 public high schools in the state. This means that, based on the corrected score, NHS was in the 67th percentile, much lower than the raw score ranking. If we compare our scores to other districts also classified as “Suburban: Large”, Northville is ranked 15th out of 132 like-classified districts. A few of the schools ranked higher than Northville are Grosse Pointe South, East Grand Rapids and Bloomfield Hills Andover.
The lesson we can take away from this report is that there is always room for
improvement. We know our school district does an excellent job of educating our kids but we cannot rest on our laurels. Even as we continue to struggle during these difficult economic times, we need our teachers, administrators and parents to be striving for excellence, looking for new ways to inspire our children to pursue fields of study in math and science as well as the humanities. As many of us teach our children, we always need to strive to be number one.