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While some schools come off the Priority List, many are added

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Seven schools have been released from the state’s list of lowest-performing schools. But 124 schools remain.

The Michigan School Reform Office released a list of the bottom five percent of schools based on academic performance Thursday.

Thirty-one schools were named so-called priority schools for the first time. The rest have been on the list before.

Most of the schools on the list come from Detroit, but also include schools in Benton Harbor, Flint, Grand Rapids, and the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan.

The schools have to send the state a plan for how they will improve their performance. Each are reviewed after four years and if they meet certain criteria, are removed from the list.

This year, the SRO also allowed early release. Eligible schools are ranked above the 15th percentile for two straight years, and meet other requirements.

The seven schools released this year all met the criteria to be released. Those schools were Decatur High School, Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Eisenhower School in Metro Detroit’s Shelby Township, Frontier International Academy in Hamtramck, Lincoln Senior High School in Ypsilanti, Madison High School and Vestaburg Community High School.

School Reform Officer Natasha Baker said in a statement, “These seven schools provide a great example of how some tough and thoughtful decisions by local leaders can lead to rapid turnaround in academic performance.”

The bottom five percent list resulted in some misinformation in the weeks and months leading up to its release, says Caleb Buhs with the Michigan School Reform Office. 

“This is not a closure list,” he said. “This is one of the pieces of information that we’ll take into consideration as we’re reviewing the various schools on the list and how we can help them and help the students in those schools.”

Buhs says closure is only one of the tools the SRO can use to try and increase academic performance. But closure is an extreme measure that the state has not taken since 2010.

“If a school is just chronically failing, we’re not talking one or two years, we’re talking up to a decade or more, then they could be considered for closure,” Buhs said.

The Top to Bottom list that ranks all Michigan schools will be released by the Michigan Department of Education later this year.

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