State of our schools address sparks excitement in Grand Rapids Public Schools

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- An annual assessment of West Michigan’s largest school district was center stage at Ottawa Hills High School Tuesday night. The Grand Rapids Public Schools state of our schools address drew a big crowd.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal gave a positive pep rally speech about the difficulties the district has overcome and the game plan for moving forward. She said big changes have been put in play aimed at stabilizing and growing the district.

The new academic plan focuses on three things: Pre-K through 12th grade literacy continuum, A curriculum review and strengths-based capacity building, and leadership development.

The superintendent was very excited about attendance improvements. “Over the last four years, we have consistently increased our student attendance," she said.

Neal also said graduation rates are up nearly 12% over the past four years. Grand Rapids Montessori had a 47% increase.

“I love that she took a look back to say this is where we were five years ago, and this is where we are going. And to say these are the problems we are working on next," Said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

As for what’s next, the superintendent said she's excited about construction on CA Frost Public Museum School, the demolition of the school building at 111 College Avenue NE, and expansion of the Montessori school at Ridgemoor.

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1 Comment

  • Barry

    I see that Fox17 is reporting that grad rates are up 12%, but does not actually mention what those graduation rates are now. If they are still below 80% they are still nothing to be excited about, IMO. These annual “pep rallies” by Neal are a joke. Look, graduation rates had better be up, after all, there are thousands fewer students in the GRPS schools than 20 years ago, and that means the student-teacher ratio has improved, right? That would necessarily lead to higher quality education and therefore higher graduation rates. But is that really what has happened? No. GRPS has dumped its lowest performing students on charters, largely upping the graduation rate by eliminating most of the students who wouldn’t graduate from the equation. The GRPS finds this something to crow about. Then they urn around and point their fingers at the charters who took on all those students and say “Look how bad these charter schools are!”, ignoring the fact that those students largely do much better in the charters than they ever did in the GRPS, even if they don’t graduate.

    Graduation rates are not a way to measure the success of a school system anyway. The success of the students is how you measure the success of a school system. What is the arrest rate for GRPS students in comparison to non-GRPS students? That would be a much more telling statistic.