GRPS superintendent: ‘We are on the right path’

Despite performance findings, GRPS optimistic schools will improve


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state recently released information on the lowest performing schools in Michigan. Many are right here in West Michigan.

Schools in several counties are all being monitored by the state. Some of those schools fall in the lowest five percent.

Friday, 24 Hour News 8 spoke to Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal about four of their schools being included on the 2015 report. Those four are included in the 13 schools being monitors by SRO over a four year period for necessary improvements.

The nine other schools have made improvements since becoming monitored, and therefore, Weatherall Neal is confident their lowest performing schools will also turn around.

“Nothing really changes. We have a great academic plan, wonderful teachers and principals. It doesn’t change. We will continue to partner with members in this community, with our staff, with our parents and most importantly with our children. We will continue to work the plan,” Weatherall Neal told 24 Hour News 8.

Like many districts across the state, GRPS is looking for ways to get more funding for things like upgraded technology, building improvements and student engagement.

“There’s always funding concerns when you are educating, especially children in urban areas. It takes additional resources. We have to focus on the social-emotional learning aspect of education and it’s not just about teaching the curriculum. It’s how do we educate the whole child? And that does take resources,” Weatherall Neal added.

The district will also be reviewing performance data, but ultimately it wants to make improvements beyond test scores.

“We teach the curriculum. At the end of the day, that’s what this is about. It isn’t about ‘teach a test.’ Anybody can teach a test and get a high score. It isn’t about that. It is about teaching the curriculum and creating the opportunities for these children to learn,” Weatherall Neal explained. “I think the goal for all of us is to educate our children. It isn’t about Grand Rapids versus a Detroit school or somewhere else. We all want what’s best for these children.”

Schools that did fall in that bottom five percent will need to send a redesign plan to the state reform office by the end of September.

The schools in West Michigan included in that new list by the State Reform Office include:

BERRIEN RESA

  • Dream Academy
  • International Academy at Hull
  • STEAM Academy at MLK
  • Benton Harbor Charter School Academy
  • Benton Harbor High School
  • Montessori Academy at Henry C Morton (CLOSED)

CALHOUN ISD

  • Dudley School

KALAMAZOO RESA

  • Washington Writers’ Academy
  • Woodward School for Technology and Research

KENT ISD

  • Burton Elementary School
  • Burton Middle School
  • Martin Luther King Leadership Academy
  • Westwood Middle School
  • Hope Academy of West Michigan
  • Michigan Virtual Charter Academy

MUSKEGON AREA ISD

  • Muskegon Heights Academy
  • Marquette Elementary School

Here is the state’s full list of priority schools.

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