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Posted on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

Ypsilanti High School no longer eligible for School Improvement Grants

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti High School is no longer eligible for up to $2 million in grant money available to help boost achievement in the state’s poorest performing schools.

The Michigan Department of Education no longer lists Ypsilanti High as achieving in the lowest 5-percent of schools statewide. Schools must be among the lowest 5-percent to receive the assistance.

Locally, Willow Run High School is the only school on that list. District officials there were not immediately available for comment.

Ypsilanti Public Schools officials were previously told Ypsilanti High was eligible for the assistance. But the state made last-minute adjustments to the formula it uses to determine qualifying schools. Instead of using one year of data that included MEAP scores and graduation rates, it is now using two years.

District spokeswoman Emma Jackson said Superintendent Dedrick Martin received a phone call from the Department of Education today at 12:15 p.m. informing him of the school’s new status. The deadline to file for the grant money was 3 p.m.

“We still have to make changes at the high school, but, unfortunately, we’re not eligible to receive money to help with the changes,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the district will no longer consider the four restructuring models it had to choose from to qualify for the grants. Those options included closing the school, not rehiring 50-percent of the staff, making major changes to the curriculum or joining in a “charter-like” arrangement with an outside entity.

Martin said the district had already identified areas in which the school needs to improve and has been proactive in taking steps to make changes. He said the financial assistance would have greatly helped those efforts.

"I'm disappointed we're not entitled to the possibility of $2 million to put together some needed reforms so we can improve the academic outcomes of students at the high school," he said.

A group of school stakeholders and community members assembled by Jennifer Martin, assistant superintendent for educational quality, will still continue to meet and develop ideas for improvement.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

@ CountyKate: I graduated from EMU in 1986...I've been here awhile. I lived out of the district for a long time but I was here for the Zulhke (sp?) issues and the Adams School rage. I am not exclusively looking at test scores. I also look at in-school crime and safety, class size, academic achievement short and longer term (college graduation rates) etc. What I see is a failing, utterly failing, school district that has been failing for decades. YPS has been performing at a level like those quoted above for a very very long time. I don't blame the teachers or administration entirely. Far too much of what goes in to academic performance is beyond the school's control. I also see those parents who care enough and have any way of making a choice to do so, pulling their kids out of these schools into schools that atmospheres and academic challenge enough to match to their expectations. By the time that distills out to the high school level, its a mess. Some recent improvement in atmosphere may *feel* better but it does not constitute any measure of success based on the DISMAL ratings universally throughout the district per the data listed above. What we have are schools of last resort and I think there has to be a time when you just plain start over. I think that if the highest performing school in your system is still in the lowest 1/3 of the schools in one of the worse performing state systems in the nation...might be worth it to think about it.


Wed, Jun 16, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

@Truth - Thank you for the link, it is sad to see almost 1/2 the list is in Detroit. Every student should have an equal chance at a good education.


Wed, Jun 16, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

According to the state database published on the Free Press site, Ypsilanti Schools are ranked as follows: Adams El 5.4% Chappelle El 13.5% East Middle 11.1% Erickson El 28.6% Estabrook El 26.5% West Middle 25.1% YHS 11.3% No other comments needed; these numbers speak quite eloquently for themselves.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

Does anyone know how to obtain a copy of this list? I found it:,1607,7-140--238556--,00.html Odd....Adrian City School District (Adrian High School) is on this list, as well as quite a few charter schools. Kalamazoo, home of the Kalamazoo Promise, has two schools on the list (not high school, they are a magnet school and a middle school).


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 5:10 p.m.

Thanks for the update Tom.....somewhere between 5% and 12% of the worst schools. From horrible to slightly horrible...I guess that's progress.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

WAHT A JOKE. As a YHS alum it is tragic what has happened to a once great and proud school. The system is set up to reward extreme failure. You can't just fail in the bottom 10%. You must fail in the bottom 5%. This is insane. If you fail that bad you should not be getting one more stinking cent of tax payer money. In fact you should be closed immediately to prevent the poisoning of any more young minds. Give the money to successful schools so they can become more successful. My kids will not set foot in one Ypsi/Willow Run/Lincoln school. Thank God we can afford to send them elsewhere. GO BRAVES!!!! Oh wait, they took that away from us too.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

Further, I think the schools near the bottom should qualify for School Improvement money if they can show they've been making serious efforts to improve. It seems ridiculous to offer to help improve only after the school has been subjected to serious consequences. And, from what I have read about YHS, it seems like the administration and the state give the school more troubles and no help. The central administration made up the 49% F policy, fired a beloved principal who was bringing teachers and students in line. Then the state dangles an axe over the school and then takes it away with no explanation and no help.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

Perkins - have you checked any facts on this story with the State? What criteria were used to determine the bottom? How closely does the list line up with the socioeconomic status of the districts on the list? Did the Dept. of Ed really just change the list of failing schools that fast? How could the state make such a huge mistake and not be held accountable? How is the Dept of Ed. allowed to make such a huge mistake? The options facing Ypsilanti were drastic and draconian in the morning, and then, suddenly in the afternoon, the State says "Oh, nevermind"?


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

Tom, Isn't being in the bottom 12% still failing? I realize it has been a very long time since I was at Ypsi High, my class was on Cross Street, but back in the day, anything below 60% was failing.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

Lorie, if you weren't here before, you can't know how far we've come. Believe me when I say the atmosphere in the high school is MUCH more conducive to education than it was before and the classes are much more focused on actual learning. Not everything is about the test scores, although they are improving as well. I'm not talking about formulas, because I don't think they accurately reflect what has been changing in YHS. Although, some day they will. I have been actively involved in the Ypsilanti schools in a variety of capacities (none of them meaning employment with the district) since 1995. I have seen a lot of changes, some good and some bad. Right now, there are good changes afoot because of the administration of Jim Hawkins, Richard Weigel and Jon Brown. I only hope those positive changes are maintained and built upon under the new administrators. Of course, we all want those changes to mean improvement in test scores in an instant. That isn't reality. And unfortunately, many kids will graduate from YHS before these changes see full fruition, my son among them. We need to stay vigilant to ensure that these positive changes are only the foundation of what is to come. I want to believe they will be, but I'm still taking a wait-and-see approach right now, while making sure the BoE and administrators know my hopes are high.

Tom Perkins

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

Gorc, Dedrick Martin said the district was first told YHS fell in the bottom 12-percent, then later yesterday he received an e-mail from the MDE stating that they weren't sure of the exact number. But they do know that Ypsi is no longer in the bottom 5-percent.

Former A2rite

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 12:30 p.m.

Although Ypsilanti Public Schools need MUCH continued improvement, it is good to hear there has been some. I think this Angela commenter is not understanding what people are saying and why -- and that's okay. Hopefully, with a new superintendant and principal, YHS will continue to become a better place, offering beneficial programs and more positive results. Many of us merely appreciate the fact that THEY haven't given up!


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

That is funny. Being ranked just above the worst is a good thing? Talk about low expectations. How could we ever as a city hope to improve if this is something we except. Ive said it before and i will continue saying it untill someone can show me im wrong,its not the teachers its the students. No matter how much you teach, if the student ends up in prison or isnt going to graduate for what ever reason why would they care about grades. The students parents dont care, im sure some parents work for a living and teach thier kids values and ethics but on the whole in much of ypsi the income does not come from a days work and that is what the child is seeing. If thier parents get things for free why should they have to work for it. I live in Ypsi, I have two childeren who i put in belleville schools, not much better by the way, my husband and i have both had jobs since we were in our teens and niether of us have ever excepted a hand out from the state. We have lost jobs before but if your willing to work, you can find work. Niether of us have excepted hand outs from the state because we want to earn our way through life nad this is what we want to teach our kids. Ypsi is thrilled to be so close to the worst. Ypsi High and Willow Run are jokes, someone said putting the schools together would create one less valedictorian, what would thier gpa be a c+. The blight the crime the hand outs the lack of willingness to work is disgusting. If I would have had any Idea Ypsi was like this we never would have move here. You cant judge a broke by its cover, The saying is not true about Ypsi


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

@CountyKate: What does *huge strides* mean? As I understand it, the formula changed by counting two years of graduates for some ratio instead of just the most recent year. That means Ypsi was eligible based on counting this most recent year but if we go back another year they were not eligible. This means that the graduation rate for this year was WORSE than the year before. How does still, after years of work, still being ranked right AT the worst 5%(close to) of high schools in the state show improvement?


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

The thing is, YHS has been making huge strides. Teachers who were only coasting are gone and the teachers who have, all along, been working their tushes off have been seeing support for their efforts. Test scores have been improving and the entire atmosphere of the school was fostering of a commitment to excellence. Is it where it needs to be yet? No. But progress was being made. Now, we're bound to see if this formula for success will continue as new administrators put their stamp on things. I hope they will bring continued success to YHS. I hope they will continue the programs at the lower grades that have already brought improved test scores and better learning situations to students. I have all my fingers and toes crossed for that success. I think YPS has come a long way from the Zuhlke days and I don't want us slipping back. It's because of that experience with incompetent administrators and secretive policies that I, and many like me, will be watching closely to see that we don't regress. In many ways, we truly are the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of failure and heading toward the skies of success.

Bronzie Boy

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

I love my school. Go Phoenix! The recent news about not being lumped into the bottom five percent is a terrific thing, and I am absolutely certain that we do not need ANY grant money to fix what is wrong. We need a few things to change, however. In my experience at YHS, it has always been the case that when high expectations are demanded by teachers and administrators, higher expectations are achieved by the students. I believe very strongly that we ought to eliminate any policies that do not demand 100% from the students. Most of the kids are willing to give full effort and want leaders that ask of their full potential. This can be achieved by a few simple requirements that include these two: be in class on time and ready to learn every day. It's not rocket science but merely common sense and good, old-fashioned manners that are seen daily in thousands of schools across this beautiful, blessed land called the USA. If students are not able to fulfill these basic requirements, they need to see immediate and tough consequences. Just my small opinion, but I've seen it in action for many years running in several classes @ YHS (until the new grading policy took effect, that is). I welcome your comments and boldly post this with the hope that others will see that many of us love our school and students and will do everything that we can to ensure their success with encouragement and fairness in mind. Finally, I agree with Amelia: Handing students 49% for doing nothing is going south when we need to go north! We need to start making some noise about the grading policy, which simply encourages laziness and lack of respect. It's an education thief that should be locked up with the criminally insane. Sorry about making one big paragraph. I wanted to save space!


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

If the school is no longer in the bottom 5% of poorly achieving schools, then what percentage are they at? The bottom 6.5%? The bottom 8.0%? The bottom 12.0%?


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 7:35 a.m.

Too much equating money with performance is a recipe for ruin. Ypsi is getting better because the people are more focused on education, not because they magically turned dollars into learning. Kudos to YPS and a pox among those who game the system for tax revenue.


Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 5:31 a.m.

@ Basic Bob: Closing schools is not an option. People hear this in the community, but it is absolutely absurd. Closing schools eliminates options for families. If Willow Run closes, that is one less captain of the football team, one less senior class president, one less valedictorian. The ability to obtain these grants is not a good thing. I am confident, however, that Willow Run staff will give nothing less than their best to meet the needs of their kids.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 15, 2010 : 3:35 a.m.

Ypsilanti could still end up with the money if Willow Run does the right thing and shuts down their failing schools. Send them to Ypsilanti where things are actually improving.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 8:51 p.m.

I must also say that it is easy for a reader of this article to take this news negativley. YHS not being eligible for this money is a good thing. Keep in mind that schools eligible for these grants have been identified as being in the bottom 5% of low performing schools. YHS was not on the draft list that was issued earlier this year. It would be great if the state could keep a solid formula to go by however, so districts could keep a solid plan and parents could decide how to proceed in making decisions that effect their child's education. I am confident in YHS teachers. They care about my son and are dedicated to their work.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 7:54 p.m.

It is a shame to see information go out to the public and then watch it get twisted in this manner. As a parent of a YHS student, I am proud of my son's accomplishments and happy with the education he is provided and the opportunities I have for involvement with my child's education. This is the key to your child's success. BE the parent.


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

Of course they improved with that 49% they hand out like candy for NO WORK! Way to go...just be sure to let them know that when they don't show up for work they don't get 49% of their pay. Of course everyone is passing they do not follow their own published guidelines...I know for a fact of a student who was tardy to school 54 days and about as many unexcused absences AND ZERO repercussions! Zip. Still got to play sports as well. I was standing there when they said there is absolutely no way they can keep track of first hour.....

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

as an alumni of yhs, that's something to be proud of...NOT from: once a brave, always a brave!


Mon, Jun 14, 2010 : 2:55 p.m.

Uh, yeah. Sure, eyeheartA2. Whatever you say. I'm not sure your idea of "better" and mine are the same.