Seaholm was recently named the fifth best high school in Michigan by the US News and World Report’s high school rankings, and a great deal of credit goes to the community, administration, students and, especially, teachers.
The school was ranked highly based on good ACT scores, which indicate a high rate of college readiness, high math and reading proficiencies, and a relatively low student to teacher ratio. All of this deserves to be celebrated.
Still, as great of an honor as this ranking is, Seaholm has a long way to go.
As Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad told the Highlander, “[Seaholm and Groves] are both comparing very well to other high schools around the country… at the same time, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.”
It is important to keep in mind that all of these factors are averages. They indicate that, overall, Seaholm students score well in all of these areas, but they overlook significant achievement gaps in different groups of students.
“While we have overall excellent achievement, there are also achievement gaps,” Nerad said. “Our students of color, particularly our African American students, our students with disabilities and, while we have a low number and percentage of low income students, we are seeing disproportionate gaps in their achievement as well.”
According to Nerad, we the school must focus on “advancing learning for all students, eliminating achievement gaps for some students.”
Last year, Seaholm didn’t even make the World Report’s top ten high schools in the state. It’s difficult to argue, though, that the school environment feels any different now that we’ve earned a top spot.
A fifth place ranking cannot claim to impact the day-to-day life of students or the challenges they face at school every day. While it encompasses test scores and minority enrollment, it doesn’t address bullying, financial disadvantages, or student involvement.
Recent initiatives have worked to address these issues, and that’s a good start. Because no matter how well Seaholm is regarded in the state, or country, the school will never be finished improving, especially as long as these achievement gaps exist in the student body. Administrators cannot solely focus on upping our ranking as a school; they must also work to improve the daily experience of each and every student in the building.