Our schools make the grade

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:19 PM

After reviewing data from more than 19,400 high schools throughout the country, including 873 in Michigan, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Spring Lake High School 19th and Grand Haven High School 25th in Michigan on its “Best High Schools” list. However, that’s down from 2013 when they were ranked 10th and 22nd, respectively.

In this year’s national standings, Spring Lake High School ranked 747th and Grand Haven High School was No. 813. Last year, Spring Lake was No. 641 and Grand Haven was No. 897 in the nation.

Recognized schools throughout the country received Gold, Silver or Bronze medals for performance on state assessments and college readiness. Both Spring Lake and Grand Haven are among 9 percent of high schools to receive Silver medals in the nation.

For the past eight years that the report has been conducted, Spring Lake High School has been ranked among the top 20 high schools in the state, Principal Mike Gilchrist said.

“It’s quite an honor to be on that list every year since they’ve done it,” he said.

Grand Haven High School Principal Tracy Wilson said she is extremely proud of her staff and students for attaining the accomplishment. She said the award demonstrates that they continue to have an excellent program on a statewide and national level.

“Our staff and students work exceptionally hard to continue to uphold our ‘Tradition of Excellence,’ which is an expectation of our parents and community,” Wilson said.

For the 2014 rankings, U.S. News worked with American Institutes for Research, a Washington, D.C.-based behavioral and social science research organization.

International Academy in Bloomfield ranked first in Michigan and No. 9 nationally. The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, was No. 1 in the nation.

The report looked at the Advanced Placement participation rates and found that 45 percent of Spring Lake High School and 43 percent of Grand Haven High School students participate in those courses.

Based on student performance on state exit exams and college-level course work on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, Spring Lake High School students have 84 percent reading proficiency and 54 percent math proficiency, and Grand Haven High School students have 70 percent in reading proficiency and 44 percent math proficiency.

“We have high expectations for student learning in our district,” Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said. “And because we have such talented staff, those expectations are being met and even exceeded.”

Konarska said Grand Haven staff is working to prepare their students for success in the 21st century in a variety of ways — such as continuing to develop relationships with students, monitoring students’ progress and being mindful of closing achievement gaps through targeted interventions.

Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton said his staff is involved in training for quality and learning for continued improvement.

The Spring Lake district is also in the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate site, which would begin in the fall of 2016. It is a two-year program geared at providing students with an intercultural understanding.

“We believe that will bring a whole new level of rigor and success to our students,” Furton said.

CLICK HERE to see the full report from U.S. News & World Report.

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