Local schools rank high on list

CALUMET – A ranking system by the online Bridge Magazine has put three Copper Country school districts in the top 10 percent of 540 districts ranked in the state.

According to its website, Bridge Magazine provides information and analysis of various facets of government and business in the state, including talent and education, quality of life, success, safety net, and economy and competitive position.

The Bridge rankings uses a system created by Public Sector Consultants of Lansing. The purpose of the rankings is to examine how schools are or aren’t “exceeding predicted proficiency” in the school curriculum. It “is designed to compare student proficiency on standardized tests at the school district level, across grades, and over time, relative to socioeconomic status.”

The Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw are ranked ninth overall in the state, and the 11th grade of Calumet High School is ranked eighth in the state. The eighth grade was ranked 28th and the fourth grade was ranked 51st.

Darryl Pierce, C-L-K superintendent, said the ranking is based on data the district sends to the Michigan Department of Education every year. The Bridge began its ranking system starting with the 2011-12 school year.

Pierce said the district ranked so high because there is a philosophy of constant improvement in the district, which includes teachers, students, administration and the community.

“We work all year long on school improvement, and constantly look at ways to improve ourselves,” he said.

At C-L-K, Pierce said teachers and administrators work to improve each student’s performance each year. There is a culture and expectation in the C-L-K district of high academic achievement.

“All students can learn and be successful here,” he said.

The C-L-K district has made a commitment to acquiring the latest educational technology, which also helps students learn, Pierce said.

“It personalizes education for our students,” he said.

Pierce said besides the commitment of the students, teachers and administration at C-L-K, the community has been important to the district’s success, also, which contributed to the high ranking by Bridge Magazine.

“It reaffirms our dedication to exceptional education, as well as the exceptional performance of our students, staff and school board,” he said.

Chassell Township Schools were ranked 27th overall by Bridge Magazine. The 11th grade was ranked 17th, the eighth grade was ranked 54th and the fourth grade was ranked 110th.

George Stockero, Chassell Township Schools principal and superintendent, said the school has been ranked in the top 10 percent each of the years the ranking has been done.

“This is the third year in a row we’ve received this award,” he said.

Last year the district was ranked 30th overall, Stockero said.

Stockero said the success of the district is due to students, staff and community. The district is currently in a school improvement process.

“We’re digging to see what we can do better,” he said.

The Chassell district is also making a commitment to improving technology, Stockero said. The school foundation provides funding for new technology each year.

Smaller class sizes help ensure each student gets the attention he or she needs, which helps with performance, Stockero said.

Stockero said the Bridge Magazine ranking indicates the district is consistent in its efforts.

“We’re very proud of this,” he said.

Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools were ranked 33rd overall. The 11th grade was ranked 21st, the eighth grade was ranked 40th, and the fourth grade was ranked 135th.

William Rivest, Dollar Bay schools principal, said last year the district was ranked 308th overall by the Bridge Magazine.

“We made a significant climb,” he said.

Although he’s very pleased with that ranking improvement, Rivest said because the district has such a small student population, there can be a large swing in performance from year to year, so teachers, students and administration have to work to develop consistency in their performance.

The improvement in ranking is due to several factors, Rivest said, including changes to class scheduling and improvements in technology.

“We’ve done multiple things to improve,” he said.

Rivest said he’s particularly impressed with technological improvements the district has made, including using the Internet for some instruction.

“There’s an online component we’re bringing into the classroom,” he said.

There has been an improvement in the atmosphere at the school in recent years, also, which Rivest said is helping students learn and teachers to teach.

“We are striving to make this a large-family atmosphere,” he said. “We want kids to feel happy.”

Rivest said continually changing state and federal regulations regarding education mean the bar for performance keeps rising.

“There are definitely challenges,” he said.