CLK, Jeffers among the best in state

PAINESDALE – There are many ranking systems for schools in the United States, but the members of the Lansing-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy think some of those rankings compare apples to oranges, so they created their own ranking system, which ranks Jeffers High School and Calumet High School 15 and 20 respectively.

According to the Mackinac Center website, members of the conservative think tank said other ranking systems don’t take into consideration a student’s socioeconomic status or parents’ educational background. Their system ranks together schools in similar geographic locations, such as city, rural or remote rural. It also takes into consideration the number of students taking part in the federal free or reduced lunch program. Also considered are schools’ ACT and Michigan Merit Examination scores for 11th grade students in the 2008 to 2011 period. All those factors are used to create the Michigan High School Context and Performance (CAP) Report Card.

Besides being ranked 15th overall in the top 20 of the CAP report, Jeffers High School is ranked fifth and Calumet High School is ranked eighth in the Top 25 of the conventional high schools based on the overall CAP score for 2008-11.

Representatives of the Mackinac Center went to Jeffers High School and Calumet High School to make a video of the schools, and talked to teachers, students and administrators.

Michael Benda, Jeffers High School assistant K-12 principal, said he appreciates the Mackinac Center’s CAP system of ranking, which compares similar school districts just in Michigan.

The fact the state of Michigan has significantly reduced state aid to schools adds to the problems local school officials face, Benda said.

“All the schools in the Copper Country are doing the best we can with the limited funds we have,” he said. “I looked at the Mackinac website and think that what the report card indicates is that the schools in the Copper Country provide an excellent opportunity for students to receive a high quality education in spite of receiving the lowest funding per pupil in the state. The quality and dedication of our staff is unsurpassed and is fundamental to taking a student from wherever he or she is and moving them forward.”

Darryl Pierce, superintendent of the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, said the Michigan Department of Education Report Card for state schools doesn’t take into account many important factors, so he and the CHS faculty appreciate the method of comparing schools the CAP report used.

“They view it as a more true report card of what a school building is all about,” he said.

Pierce said the CAP Report looked at all 552 public school districts and more than 200 charter schools in the state, so he appreciates the relatively high ranking of 20 CHS received.

“I feel it’s truly an honor,” he said.

George Twardzik, CHS principal, said the CAP Report recognizes the quality of staff, administration and students at the school.

“It was really nice to be recognized for the hard work our staff is doing,” he said. “It’s great our kids are getting recognized for their hard work.”

To see the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Michigan High School Context and Performance Report Card, go online to