Making the grade at HHS

By Charles Sercombe

Hamtramck public school students continue to improve in state tests, but they still have a way to go before hitting state averages.

Superintendent Tom Niczay credited the improvement in test results to the continued focus on preparing students.

“It’s a combination: instruction, planning for it, the kids and extreme emphasis on it,” Niczay said. “We’re definitely on the right road.”

Niczay said one example of the district taking an extra step to help students was having a group of Bangladeshi-American college students tutor students.

Niczay also added that the public schools continue to beat local charter schools in test scores. Charter schools have been attracting public school students by the hundreds in recent years.

But the public school district has been winning students back recently with an aggressive recruitment campaign.

In the ACT test, the average score for high school juniors was 16.3 – an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous year. However, the state ACT average is 19.3. Still, Niczay pointed out, Hamtramck did as well as the more affluent community of Harper Woods.

Students at Frontier Academy scored 14.3 and those at Oakland International Academy scored 14.6. Both are charter schools in Hamtramck.

In the Michigan Merit Exam, the charter schools did far worse than their public school peers. In fact, Hamtramck charter school students did worse than their counterparts in Detroit and Highland Park.

The differences in the scores of public schools and charter schools are part of an ongoing debate over the quality of education charter schools offer. And at the center of that debate is the issue of money.

For each student who leaves Hamtramck’s public schools, the district loses about $7,000 per pupil. And conversely, charter schools receive an extra $7,000 for each student they enroll.

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