Press Release

Schools are focus of efforts to adopt strategies shown to work in leading education states.

March 6, 2018 (ROYAL OAK, Mich.) – A focused effort to improve student achievement in high-poverty public schools in Grand Rapids and Wyoming, Michigan, has shown clear progress in the last three years, according to a report published March 6 by the Education Trust-Midwest.

Through a collaboration with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, a program of The Education Trust-Midwest, and others, the schools and their districts have worked to build and support principals’ and teachers’ capacity to bolster student achievement and lead building-wide improvement initiatives in their schools. The partnership with CETL is supported by a grant from the Steelcase Foundation.

CETL is working to introduce high-leverage, research-based strategies that have been shown to work in leading education states to support Michigan’s high-poverty schools. Seven schools located in three districts — Grand Rapids Public Schools, Wyoming Public Schools and Kelloggsville Public Schools — are part of the multiyear effort.

And while much more progress is needed, the effort is showing clear gains across subject areas.

  • In math, Stocking and Sibley elementary schools in the Grand Rapids Public Schools are not only among the top-improving buildings in their district, but also among all schools in Michigan. Stocking now ranks above the 80th percentile for building-wide math improvement since 2015, and Sibley ranks above the 90th percentile.
  • Stocking and Sibley now also rank in the top 20th percentile among high-poverty schools in Michigan for building-wide math performance.
  • Specifically, Stocking Elementary, where 95 percent of students are low-income and 39 percent are Latino, is making major gains in improvement in third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade math and science. For example, Stocking’s Latino students are performing above statewide proficiency levels for fifth-grade math compared not only to Latino students statewide, but to all students, regardless of race, statewide.
  • In 2016-17, reading proficiency rates at Sibley Elementary for low-income third graders outpaced Kent Intermediate School District, other Grand Rapids Public Schools, and statewide proficiency levels for low-income students. Sibley Elementary now ranks among the highest-improving elementary schools statewide in third-grade reading.
  • In 2016-2017, Wyoming Intermediate, a secondary school in the Wyoming district, was ranked in the top 20th percentile for fifth-grade low-income student performance in English language arts among high-poverty schools.

Most important, the work has been done in partnership with district and school leaders in each of the districts, building on the foundations they have been working on for years. GRPS, for example, has been developing and leading research-based teacher and principal capacity-building efforts.

“GRPS is continuing to gain state and national attention for our Transformation Plan success in large part due to dynamic partnerships, like that with the Steelcase Foundation and Ed Trust-Midwest, that provide a laser-like focus on teacher-school leadership development, ” according to GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal.

Parkview Elementary, in the Wyoming district, one of a network of schools working with CETL, ranks among the highest-improving, high-poverty schools in Michigan for subjects such as third grade reading and math.

“I had to shift my vision,” Parkview principal Katie Jobson said. “I thought my teachers had enough on their plates, and couldn’t take on leadership roles, but I’ve learned they want to be involved; they want to be part of the leadership team. The power of teacher-leadership has become clear to me. Teacher-leadership has allowed us to get traction.”

“The implications of these collective efforts go much further,” according to Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest. “Lessons learned from these innovative, new efforts can provide important insight on innovative school improvement models for Michigan leaders and educators, particularly for the state’s most impoverished schools and districts.”


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The full report, Top Ten for Education: Not By Chance is available at

For more information on the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, please visit

The Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially for African American, Latino, American Indian, and low-income students. The Education Trust-Midwest believes in the power of intelligent education policy and practices — informed by data, research, and the successes of other states — to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning works to raise student achievement in high-poverty schools in Kent County—in collaboration with educators, administrators, parents and non-profit leaders—by providing support and coaching to teachers and promoting collaborations among principals and teachers.