Mattawan schools get high score in magazine’s ratings

MATTAWAN — The Mattawan Consolidated School District is one of only 29 Michigan school districts to receive a Gold Medal designation in the 2007 Education Quotient ratings compiled by Expansion Management magazine.

The magazine’s 16th annual Education Quotient ratings compared 2,819 districts nationwide with student enrollment of at least 3,300 students. Mattawan schools received the top ranking of a Gold Medal, which is awarded to school districts that receive an average score of 83 to 99. Mattawan’s overall average was 85.

The honor was a surprise to Superintendent James Weeldreyer, who learned about the designation when Michigan Association of School Administrators Executive Director William H. Mayes sent a letter of congratulations.

“We didn’t apply for any recognition such as this, so it was a surprise when I got the letter,” Weeldreyer said. “We have always felt that we were very efficient in our operations as determined by other measures. So it seems consistent with the other information that we have.”

Chief Editor Bill King said Expansion Management magazine compiles the yearly Education Quotient ratings to gives its readers, who are primarily CEOs of small to midsize manufacturing companies, a basis for comparing the education level of the work-force members they are likely to encounter in various communities throughout the United States.

Mattawan’s overall score was drawn from scores in three major categories: a Graduate Outcome Index (GO), a Resource Index (RI) and a Community Index (CI). The most weight was given to the GO figure and the least to the CI, which represented only about 5 percent of the school’s overall score.

Mattawan’s highest rating was in the GO category, in which the school district scored a 91. The magazine sites the GO as the most important component of the Education Quotient average. The index attempts to measure the results of the district’s educational efforts in comparison with that of other districts nationwide and consists of the district’s average college-entrance-exam score (ACT or SAT) and its graduation rate.

The CI looks at the educational and income levels of the adult population and child-poverty rates in the school system. The magazine sites the CI’s use primarily as a benchmark for sociological observations. Mattawan received a 79 in this category.

Mattawan received its lowest score, 20, in the RI category, which is an attempt to measure a community’s financial commitment to public education. It includes such things as per-pupil expenditures, the student-teacher ratio and the beginning and average salaries for teachers. Weeldreyer said Mattawan’s low level of funding from the state is the chief reason behind the low score.

Mattawan’s Gold Medal rank is the highest among nearby districts. Expansion Management gave Kalamazoo Public Schools a Green Medal and a score of 39 and Portage Public Schools a Blue Medal and a score of 81.

“I know people in Kalamazoo and in Portage, and we are all working hard,” Weeldreyer said. “All that I can surmise is that we are fortunate to have found a delivery system that seems to be very effective.”

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