5 Top K-8 Schools in Detroit

The foundation for lifelong learning is laid early. These five Detroit K-8 schools help ensure that foundation is a solid one. From running mini businesses to competing in and winning academic competitions locally and beyond, students at these five schools, chosen by Excellent Schools Detroit, are exposed to unique and insightful opportunities for diverse learning and character development.

Strong Teacher & Student Ratings

Detroit Merit Charter Academy

  • Address: 1091 Alter Road, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-331-3328

Detroit Merit Charter Academy is a public charter school serving students in kindergarten through grade eight. A fundamental philosophy of learning at Detroit Merit is that values are as integral to a successful and well-rounded individual as academic accomplishments. This means the school regularly holds Moral Focus Assemblies where students are recognized for their character. Detroit Merit Charter Academy’s Moral Focus curriculum features recognition and celebration of a different virtue each month of the school year.

During their elementary years, students at Detroit Merit are exposed to a challenging curriculum that focuses on acquiring fundamental reading and math skills and are introduced to science, geography and history. During their middle school years, students expand their knowledge in each of these subject areas to prepare for a smooth and confident transition to high school.

More than 730 students call Detroit Merit Charter Academy their school home. Every graduating eighth grader in the class of 2013-14 earned placement in their high school of choice. Twenty-three students earned academic scholarships to elite private high schools.

Strong Reading Growth

Davison Elementary-Middle School

  • Address: 2800 E. Davison Service Drive, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-252-3118

The 730 pre-K-8 students at Davison-Elementary make up a diverse population of African-American, Bangladeshi, Polish and Arabic kids. Because Davison is a MicroSociety school, all students participate in student-run and operated businesses and agencies. Students write business plans, apply for positions and manage employees.

“We are a National Blue Ribbon School and Golden Apple Award winner and recently received the recognition of a Top K-8 school in the city of Detroit and in the state of Michigan,” says Davison principal Dianne Holland.

A number of unique programs set Davison apart, including its Pencil on Paper Program, through which students complete a daily “quick write” to hone their writing skills. The school’s Techno Dragons are a team of middle-schoolers who facilitate technology in the school, producing, repairing and setting up equipment and programs. Davison students operate a daily morning news program called “Good Morning Davison” through which they broadcast school news and happenings.

“Archery is a program in which our students also excel,” Holland says. “We have champions in archery, and the students compete in state tournaments annually. Our Academic Games team is outstanding and is competing in a national competition. They are consistently state winners in numerous categories.”

Davison students have also placed first in You Be the Chemist and competed in and won the district’s mathematics bee.

“Davison’s students take learning seriously,” Holland says. “We are developing students to be competitive and productive.”

Strong Math Growth

Detroit Innovation Academy

  • Address: 18211 Plymouth Road, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-736-5537

A unique partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit has meant Detroit Innovation Academy (DIA) is able to offer students and their families programs and services that support academic achievement, health and wellness, and social services. DIA currently serves 300 students in grades K-7 with an eighth grade to be added for the 2015-16 school year.

“We believe in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child and the community,” says DIA principal Sherie Manthiram. “To that end, we have strived to cultivate partnerships with the community in a reciprocal relationship that helps both the school and the community at large.”

Those programs include a partnership with the Cody Rouge-Brightmoor Alliance to offer community programs to parents and students.

DIA’s approach includes a model of education whereby teachers stay with their students for two-year periods, enabling them to develop a meaningful relationship ensuring individualized support and academic challenge.

“DIA offers a rigorous academic program with a focus on preparing students for career and college readiness,” Manthiram says. “We are driven by data from multiple sources to ensure that students have an individualized academic program that propels them to succeed.”

Strong Overall Grade

Chrysler Elementary School

  • Address: 1445 E. Lafayette St., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-494-8440

Got a budding reporter on your hands – or just a kid who loves writing? There’s actually a school in the city that’s all about journalism.

Chrysler Elementary School, which is a DPS school that serves students in preschool through fifth grade, is a school of journalism that incorporates writing into all academic areas.

“We have partnered with InsideOut (Literary Arts Project), and they have a book of poems that will be published,” says principal Wendy Shirley.

Students also can engage in a number of other extracurricular activities, including robotics, chemistry club, boys and girls Bible club and more.

“I think what makes this school so successful is the parental involvement,” Shirley says.

The dads club is highly involved in the building, and parents come in to volunteer during lunch. It’s a great sense of community that helps the child’s overall experience at the school.

Among its many honors, the Chrysler Elementary has been ranked one of the top 100 schools in the state by the Mackinac Center. Students must apply and complete an examination in order to be considered for enrollment at this elementary school.

Strong Teacher & Student Ratings

Burton International Academy

  • Address: 2001 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-596-3800

Situated between Detroit’s Corktown and Midtown neighborhoods, Burton International Academy serves children in preschool through grade eight. A Detroit Public School, Burton is a multilingual, multicultural school of more than 665 students. Ranked as one of the state’s top 100 schools by the Mackinac Center in 2013, Burton ascribes to the philosophy that all children can learn when provided a supportive, structured and nurturing environment.

A partnership with the Wayne State University office of admissions means students have access to mentors from the university and a direct line of contact with admissions staff for college counseling and career information.

“Burton’s Beyond Basics program is especially unique in that it aims to provide Burton’s Title I/at-risk students the opportunity to learn and master the most essential life skill: reading,” says Burton principal John T. Wilson.

Burton’s curriculum includes a focus on science, technology, engineering and math that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning.

“We offer a balanced academic program in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, physical education, swim, performing arts, instrumental music, arts and crafts, and computer,” Wilson says.

Check out the Excellent Schools Detroit Scorecard for each of these schools at scorecard.excellentschoolsdetroit.org.


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