How To Understand School Ratings

Content brought to you by Excellent Schools Detroit

One of the first questions parents have when considering a new school for their child is whether it's a "good school." By that, they mean, is the environment good? The academics?

That question can be tough to answer, but Excellent Schools Detroit, a nonprofit aiming to improve education in Detroit, offers a scorecard that gives letter grades to Detroit schools to help parents get insights. Beyond the overall grade that the school gets, there are separate grades for different aspects of the school's environment and academics.

How to read ESD's scorecard

If you're using a scorecard like ESD provides to choose your child's school, pay close attention to how the schools are graded – look for ratings on academics, progress, climate, etc.

Keep in mind when reading this scorecard that not every C+ grade is the same C+, meaning each school might rank a bit differently in individual categories. Where one school might receive an F in academics, a D in academic progress and an A+ in school climate to earn its C+ grade, another school might have slightly different grades in those categories that still add up to a C+.

Use Excellent Schools Detroit's scorecard to look up your child's school, and take a close look at where it ranks in different categories to help you make a decision on what school is right for you and your child.

Other school ratings

Aside from Excellent Schools Detroit's scorecard, there are other school rating systems that work a bit differently.

State of Michigan's Accountability Scorecard

Search a public or nonpublic school by name, district and intermediate school district. Schools are given an overall color based on the points they earned. Schools were evaluated by a number of factors, including attendance, proficiency, graduation rates and participation in testing.

Academic State Champs

Bridge Magazine released this ranking of the state's traditional public and charter schools in January 2014. The school districts were evaluated by test scores and socioeconomic status; then, Bridge Magazine used that data to show which schools were doing better than expected for their students' income levels.

The Michigan Context and Performance (CAP) Report Cards

These report cards from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy look at student socioeconomic status as well as standardized test scores. Individual schools are given "CAP" scores and letter grades, along with a state ranking.


This local site shows the myriad ratings a school recieves, from a school's Excellent Schools Detroit grade to its State of Michigan color ranking. Plus, parents can rate a school on a scale to 1 to 10.


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