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Best of the best: City High Middle rated tops in Michigan

City High Middle School is the top-ranked high school in the state of Michigan in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools guidebook. It is also the 21st-best high school in the entire country and one of just four schools in the state in the top 100.

With an enrollment of 534 students, a minority enrollment of 53% and an economically disadvantaged enrollment of 41%, City High Middle has long been an academic leader in Grand Rapids Public Schools and highly ranked nationally for years. In 2020, it topped 645 schools ranked in Michigan with an overall score of 99.88. The score reflects achievements in math, reading, graduation rate and the school’s International Baccalaureate program.

“Being a diverse, urban public school that provides the International Baccalaureate model to all its students is challenging,” said Principal Ryan Huppert. “However, our students and staff rise to that challenge and take full advantage of the high level of academics we offer.”

The news came at a good time, Huppert told School News Network.

“Not being able to celebrate in person definitely makes this a bittersweet moment,” he noted. “That being said, this recognition is a well-timed piece of positive news when all of us could use something to make us smile and help us to stay as engaged as possible given the challenging circumstances. We are announcing the rankings far and wide via social media, but we honestly can’t wait to be together again in school to have a real party!”

In a statement, Grand Rapids Public Schools Interim Superintendent Ronald Gorman congratulated City’s staff and students. “This year,” he said, “they can proudly say they are the top school in Michigan!”

For City High Middle, it was the second high honor this school year. Last fall it was named a National Blue Ribbon School, the first in GRPS to earn that recognition.

In 2020, 54 of the top 100 public high schools in the country are either charter or magnet schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. But in Michigan, three of the four in the top 100 are traditional public schools, including City High Middle. The other three in the top 100 are in Ypsilanti, Bloomfield Hills and Clinton Township. East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills Northern, Forest Hills Central and Byron Center ranked in the top 30 in Michigan.

U.S. News said its annual guide is meant “to provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public schools serve all of their students – from the highest to lowest achieving – in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work.”

Its methodology ranks almost 18,000 public high schools nationwide on such measures as college readiness, college curriculum breadth, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance and graduation rate. All the nation’s public high schools were eligible, and almost all were evaluated.

In Michigan, City High Middle was first in math and reading performance – and tied for first nationally – based on test-score expectations given student demographics. The school was also third in Michigan in math and reading proficiency on state assessments, fourth in college readiness and college curriculum breadth, and 24th in graduation rate.

Huppert was especially pleased to see his school tied for first nationally in math and reading performance, calling it “potentially the most amazing piece of this recognition.”

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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville and also is a general assignment reporter and the point person for the SNN Facebook and Twitter feeds. He hails from Exeter, Ontario, but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985. He is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop! Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both freelance writing and public relations work, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level. In the summer of 2019, he began his own freelance writing and communications business. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children.  Read Phil's full bio or email Phil.

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