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Clarkston's not tops in study

Other factors more important, Rock says

February 06, 2013 - A recent study by Bridge Magazine ranks Clarkston Community Schools 176th out of 560 districts in the state.

Based on the study's Value Added Matrix (VAM), Clarkston scored a 102.8. A score of 100 is considered "expected."

Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock suspects the motives of the study's authors.

"Therefore, I believe the study is biased towards the negative," Rock said.

It's similar to a study conducted by the Conservative-leaning Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which Rock said has a negative opinion of public education.

The Bridge study matrix ranks districts throughout the state based on students' proficiency on standardized tests as well as their socioeconomic status.

It used the 2011-12 state standardized tests – the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests given fourth and eighth grade, the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) given to eleventh-graders, and the American College Testing (ACT) scores for both public and charter schools.

According to the online magazine, the focus was on the number of students the test results deemed proficient on a given subject.

The study considered socioeconomic status of students by including how many were eligible for free and reduced lunch. Clarkston has 22.72 percent of students on free and reduced lunch.

Rock said the nation has a poverty rate of 23 percent, the second highest among developed countries. He pointed out poverty is associated with stress which is connected to health and negative effects on student achievement.

"The Bridge study suggests students living in Clarkston who come from low income families are performing above expectations," Rock said. "Although I question the intentions, validity, and reliability of this study, I do believe its conclusions support what we already know."

Clarkston teachers, parents, volunteers, and everyone else in the community who works for kids make a positive difference, he said.

"When it comes to kids, we don't make excuses; we take collective action," he added.

Bloomfield Schools was ranked the highest in Oakland County with a ranking of 112.91 while Pontiac was last with 86.41.

Considering Clarkston's neighbors: Lake Orion ranked 11th in the county and 109th in the state and has 50.02 percent of their students on free and reduced lunch eligibility. Oxford is ranked 21 in the county and 385 in the state and has 23.71 percent of their students on free and reduced lunch.

The ranking took the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches and projected how many students would then be expected to be proficient on the MEAP tests in fourth and eighth grades and the MME in 11th grade. Schools were ranked on whether they did better than expected or worse.

Clarkston is also looking at different studies on how they can help their students for not only today but for the future.

Rock pointed out the Third International Math and Science Study helps to show where the United States ranks among other nations while The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows the major improvements since 1990 for students especially in math and science.

"Clarkston utilizes research-based approaches toward continuous improvement," said Rock.

"I believe that the Clarkston community and the Clarkston Community Schools are absolutely engaged in best practices that will continue to benefit our children."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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