East Lansing Public Schools ranked as the 21st-best district in Michigan by Niche, a company that analyzes school districts using information like data from the U.S. Department of Education, surveys and grades.
ELPS earned an A report card, receiving an A+ grade for college prep; an A for academics, diversity, and sports; and an A- for clubs and activities and health and safety. The district fared well in teachers, administration, food, and facilities and did not receive any grade below B-.
Superintendent Dori Leyko told ELi that “it’s an honor to be acknowledged and recognized as one of the 25 best districts in Michigan….These rankings don’t really drive our work or district improvement goals, but some of the measures that are factored in are definitely important to us – like graduation rate!”
School Board Vice President Terah Chambers agreed that rankings aren’t everything, telling ELi that “it’s nice to be recognized in rankings, but to me there are so many other important indicators of what makes a school district great.”
For Chambers, ELPS is great because “there are so many ways to be excellent: from academics, to the arts, to sports, to extracurricular activities, to our commitment to mental health.”
Leyko also expressed her pride in all ELPS has to offer.
“I’m proud that we really focus on the health and wellness of our students and staff in addition to academic achievement and growth,” she said. “I’m proud of how committed our teachers and staff are to our students – we have amazing teachers and leaders in the district. I’m proud of our district goals and our commitment to continual learning around diversity, equity and inclusion.”
According to School Board Secretary Chris Martin, it’s a collective effort to make ELPS a district worthy of distinction.
“Parents and caregivers have high expectations for their students, and they are willing to make significant contributions to support the work of our district,” Martin said.
Inside the classroom, students can find, “a strong culture rooted in kindness and intellectual curiosity,” Martin said. “When students feel safe to take chances and when they experience strong connections to their peers and teachers, it leads to better academic outcomes.”
Although the ranking categories do not dictate ELPS’s development goals, the district has pursued some improvements in line with the rankings metrics. Recently, ELPS began renovating its elementary school facilities following the passage of a $94 million bond in 2017.
The Niche report card also recognized the diversity at ELPS.
ELi reported earlier in the year that the ELPS student body is much more diverse than its faculty. The district has strengthened its commitment to diversity equity, and inclusion following the police-killing of George Floyd, promising to hire more Black teachers, end police presence in schools, form equity teams in all buildings, and make changes to its curriculum.
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