Five Michigan Schools Recognized for Outstanding Academic Post-Pandemic Progress for Students Who Are Underserved
The Building the Hope Schools collectively demonstrated academic progress that beat state averages, along with an affirming culture of diverse student populations, including students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
November 8, 2023 — As schools across Michigan continue to work to help students recover from the unfinished learning wrought by COVID-19, five Michigan public schools stand as outliers for their exceptional post-pandemic progress for underserved student groups, offering strategies that can be leveraged for educational recovery.
The 2023 Building the Hope Schools – and Schools to Watch — serve high percentages of students of color and/or students from low-income backgrounds, relative to those same subgroups statewide. These public schools are selected for recognition because one or more of their subgroups of students — Black, Latino, and students from low-income backgrounds in particular — demonstrated higher rates of proficiency in English Language Arts and/or math than the overall state average for a given grade level on the state assessment. In addition, they have culturally and linguistically-responsive school-wide practices — including instructional practices — that facilitate students’ outstanding academic progress and growth, making them true outliers in the State of Michigan. All the schools are Michigan public schools. They are geographically diverse — located in Brimley, Holland, Lansing, Wayne and South Haven – further underscoring the possibilities of success for Michigan’s students, no matter their families’ zip code or income.
“Building the Hope Schools truly represent what it means to provide opportunities for all Michigan students, demonstrating that our public schools can make great strides for students who have long been underserved while providing culturally- and linguistically-affirming places for children from all backgrounds,” said Jen DeNeal, director for policy and research for The Education Trust-Midwest, a data-driven education policy, research and advocacy organization that works to close gaps in opportunity and achievement for all children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, English Learners and students of color.
“These schools serve as exemplars to us all,” DeNeal said. “Their post-pandemic successes show us that academic acceleration is possible and can provide a roadmap, particularly as schools work to help our most underserved students, who were most impacted during COVID-19, recover from the pandemic.”
The five 2023 Building the Hope Schools are:
Brimley Elementary in Brimley
Selected as a Building the Hope School because its students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds exceeded statewide scores in both English Language Arts and math in grades 3 and 6, English Language Arts in grades 5 and 8, and math in grade 4. Additionally, more than half of the student population identifies as American Indian, and the school saw substantial academic wins for this subgroup post-pandemic. Lessons are infused with culturally-relevant instruction that allows students to see themselves reflected in what they learn. These strategies contribute to student achievement results that make Brimley an outlier in the state.
Eagle Crest Charter Academy in Holland
Selected as a Building the Hope School because its Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds exceeded statewide average scores for both math and English Language Arts in grades 4, 6, 7, and 8. Additionally, for grade 5, Latino students exceeded statewide averages in both English Language Arts and math while students from low-income backgrounds exceeded statewide scores in English Language Arts. Eagle Crest Charter’s grade 4 English Learners also exceeded statewide scores in math. The school boasts a familial atmosphere that keeps families and community members invested in the school’s success. Staff also credit some of its success to promoting shared values while honoring the richness of its multicultural community.
Wayne Memorial High in Wayne
Selected as a Building the Hope ‘School to Watch’ because of its creative instruction and opportunities for students. Wayne Memorial’s 11th-grade students from Latino families scored above the statewide average on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT for the 2021-2022 school year. Other programs distinguishing the school are a Multilingual Language department assertively engaged with the community and teachers, and a college and career readiness office focused on aligning data about student aptitude and interests with exposure to future professional job opportunities.
Windemere Park Charter Academy in Lansing
Selected as a Building the Hope School ‘School to Watch’ because its Black students exceeded statewide averages in grades 6 and 8 English Language Arts as well as grade 8 math. Additionally, students from low-income backgrounds exceeded statewide averages in 3rd-grade math and English Language Arts as well as in grades 6 and 8 English Language Arts. The school’s focus is on creating a formula for academic success, including small group instruction, regularly assessing students’ learning, and interventions backed by data. The school staff celebrates its diverse student body and honors the school culture through its instructional practices and materials.
South Haven High in South Haven
Selected as a Building the Hope ‘School to Watch’ because its Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds exceeded statewide performance on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT. The school has distinguished itself in educating a diverse student body, with unique challenges such as those faced by migrant students, by providing creative academic, social and cultural support. Dedicated teachers at the school vigorously weave assessment preparation into the curriculum, alongside instructional content. The Multilingual Support class gives students classroom experience and individualized help. The school staff builds courses and clubs to reflect the school’s diversity and embeds activities that culturally affirm and engage families.
This is the third year The Education Trust-Midwest has named a cohort of Building the Hope Schools. To identify the schools, researchers conducted a comprehensive quantitative analysis of each school’s performance. The Education Trust-Midwest analyses examined post-pandemic grade level data in English Language Arts and Mathematics for schools serving high percentages of students of color and/or students from low-income backgrounds. Analysts and team members also conducted qualitative analyses, through in-person visits and interviews, of the schools’ learning environments before selecting the award winners. Each Building the Hope School will receive a $1,500 honorarium.
“We congratulate these schools and their educators for building the hope on what’s possible for Michigan’s schools and districts to make real progress to improve student achievement and access to opportunity for all students,” DeNeal said.
The Education Trust-Midwest is thankful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its commitment to all Michigan students and its support of the 2023 Building the Hope Schools.