Few Detroit schools get promising grade from city nonprofit

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Fewer than one in five Detroit schools received the recommendation of a nonprofit that rates academic performance.

Excellent Schools Detroit issued Wednesday its 2014 Scorecard, an assessment of K-8 schools that serve Detroit students. It’s intended to help parents make informed decisions about what school to choose for children.

The nonprofit evaluated 190 schools for its score card and only 32 of them earned a C+ or promising grade. Also, for the first time since the group started rating schools, it included recommendations for early learning and day care facilities.

Dan Varner, CEO of the Detroit-based nonprofit, said the city’s education system has a lot of room for improvement.

“There aren’t any schools or programs that have met our highest standards and that’s what we think all programs should meet,” he said during a news conference at the Our Kidz World Learning Center on Moross near Kelly Road on the city’s east side.

Detroit Public Schools officials said they’re proud of some district schools’ ranking in the report.

“We’re very proud of the work of the outstanding educators at the schools that impartial surveys and data lift up as great options for parents,” said Steve Wasko, a DPS spokesman, on Wednesday. “We are hard at work replicating academic success stories to create more high quality seats for Detroit children.“

The nonprofit assessed 94 early learning and child care programs in the city and within a five-mile radius of Detroit. Fourteen of the programs earned a favorable rating from the group, but none was given the highest grade.

“The early learning environments ... actually set up the kind of performance children will have in Kindergarten and beyond,” said Denise Smith, Excellent Schools Detroit’s vice president of early learning.

Our Kidz World Learning Center is among the early learning and child care programs Excellent Schools Detroit recommends highly.

“It means everything to be included,” said Cassandra Rice, Our Kidz World’s owner and operator. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point. It lets us know that we’re doing something right.”

A coalition of education and community leaders created Excellent Schools Detroit, which is heavily funded by foundations.

Since 2009, it has issued a report card for Detroit schools, which covers public schools, charters, parochial schools and the state-run Education Achievement Authority.

Schools earn grades based on site visits, progress in test scores, surveys of students and teachers as well as the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The group’s most recent score card was issued in the spring and it endorsed 31 schools.

Excellent Schools Detroit’s scorecard is available at its website at http://scorecard.excellentschoolsdetroit.org

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058

Top 10 schools

Excellent Schools Detroit said in its 2014 Scorecard that the following K-8 schools are the city’s best:

■Charles Wright School

■Detroit Merit Charter Academy

■Cornerstone Nevada Middle School

■Cornerstone Nevada Primary School

■Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center Academy

■Davison Elementary-Middle School

■Renaissance High School

■University Preparatory Science and Math (PSAD) Middle

■Chrysler Elementary School

■Detroit Cristo Rey High School

Source: Excellent Schools Detroit

Top 10 preschools

The top early learning programs, according to Excellent Schools Detroit:

■Jill Bostic

■C.R. Smith Pre-Kindergarten Academy

■Iris Center

■Fiore Center - Vista Nuevas High School

■Harms Elementary School

■Vistas Nuevas Head Start

■Cooke

■Duke Ellington @ Beckham

■Burton International School (Pre-K)

■Our Kidz World Learning Center

Source: Excellent Schools Detroit