02-02-2017 Hartford & Watervliet high schools score Mackinaw Center Top 100

Hartford & Watervliet high schools score Mackinaw Center Top 100 

Watervliet graded “A”, Hartford “B”, Coloma “C”

By Jon Bisnett

The same week that the State of Michigan threatens to close some 38 public schools due to the low performance, the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy released the 2016 Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card putting Hartford and Watervliet high schools in the Top 100 of all 639 public high schools (which includes charter schools), across the entire state of Michigan.

The Mackinaw study intentionally disagrees with the State of Michigan’s School Reform Office 2016 Top-to-Bottom school rankings that assess schools based on average student test scores only. The Mackinaw statistics factor in economic disadvantage as determined by percentage of students’ income as qualified for federal lunch assistance.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Director of Education Policy, Ben DeGrow, issued a statement in response to the state’s list; “Accountability is needed for schools that consistently fail to educate students. But the most serious sanctions should be reserved for those that are failing to demonstrate needed progress to beat the odds.”

Those “odds to beat” being socioeconomic hurdles as multiple studies in recent years have shown that poverty alone is the single biggest factor hampering learning in all grades K-12.

“Children living in poverty experience greater chronic stress than do their more affluent counterparts. Low-income parents’ chronic stress affects kids through chronic activation of their children’s immune systems, taxes available resources and has long-reaching effects.” (Blair & Raver, 2012)

“The effects of poverty on children are wide-reaching and can lead to lifelong struggles, especially when young people don’t receive full educations.” (Child Fund International)

Data collected from all fifty states by the National Center for Education Statistics, showed that 51 percent of students across America’s public schools were low income as recent as 2013.


Hartford High School finds itself notably in the top five at #3 for all of Van Buren County scoring #87 of 639 Michigan Public High Schools.  With a high school enrollment of 331, Hartford ranked in the 86.54 percentile state-wide, scoring an overall B rating.

Free and reduced lunch students stands at 67.7%.

It is further notable that in the past 5 years both Hartford elementary schools have been designated as “Reward Schools” by the Michigan Department of Education for achieving Adequate Yearly Progress goals while overcoming traditional barriers to student success and outperforming schools with similar risk factors and demographics.


Watervliet High School finds itself notably in the top five at #2 of Berrien County scoring #52 of 639 state-wide. With a high school enrollment of 401, Watervliet ranked in the 92nd percentile for all of Michigan, scoring an overall A rating.

Free and reduced lunch students represent 53.4%.

Additionally U.S. News and World Report recently recognized Watervliet with a Bronze rating amid nationwide rankings of Best High Schools.


Both Hartford and Watervliet are currently engaged in construction bond projects including technology and security upgrades through the success of recent bond campaigns.

Hartford is involved in a $10 million total revamp of its K-5 facilities combining two buildings in a single site.

Watervliet recently completed significant expansions of its’ two K-5 buildings while also making major improvements to entrances, cafeteria and media center at the high school campus.

Other schools

Coloma Public High School missed the Michigan Top 100 of the Mackinac survey landing at a still respectable #273 of 639 and an overall C rating at the 57 percentile. With the largest enrollment in the Tri-Cities at 483 students in the high school, Coloma falls to #12 in Berrien County and carries a free and reduced lunch percentage of 51.1%.

Three rural schools in the entire state were recognized by the Mackinaw Center for having the greatest gains since the prior report card, with one being our neighbors to the southwest at Eau Claire High School.

The state’s School Reform/Redesign Office cited 3 local Southwest Michigan schools among the 38 targeted by the state for potential closing. International Academy at Hull, STEAM Academy at MLK and Dream Academy, all located in Benton Harbor have been in the bottom 5% of the state’s Top-to-Bottom School Rankings three school years in a row, while the Benton Harbor High School is one of 35 schools on the “Schools at Risk for Next Level of Accountability” because it has been in the bottom 5 percent for two years in a row.

Why a weighted study?

Thirty-eight Michigan schools that have consistently appeared in the bottom 5 percent of the state’s rankings for three straight years are subject to be closed or face major intervention, perhaps total state takeover.  However six of those bottom schools received non-failing grades – including two Cs and one A – in the latest edition of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Context and Performance Report Card.

As a new President moves into the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address, we can look back and recall that the U.S. last officially declared a “War on Poverty” during the Johnson administration.  From all the data collected it is not difficult for one to conclude that any battle to improve our nation’s public schools, must also confront the issue of students’ economic distress as well.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a non-profit free-market think tank headquartered in Midland, Michigan. As the largest such think tank in the United States, the Center states it is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Michigan residents by promoting sound solutions to state and local policy questions.”

See the entire state report card online by visiting www.mackinac.org.

Hartford HS Winterfest 2017

Hartford Indians celebrate Winterfest this week with a basketball game on Friday, February 3 against the Coloma Comets.  Much preparation has gone into this week-long event.

Each school day throughout the week has a dress-up theme. The class with the most people dressing up will receive points.  The class with the most points at the end of Winterfest will win.

HARTFORD HS WINTERFEST KING/QUEEN CONTESTANTS… pictured (from the left): Front row – Amber Martin, Madison Birmele, Leonila Hurtado, Manuela Villota, Marissa Beraza, and Tabitha Cortez; Back row – Mike Boyd, Michel Calderon, Eriberto Barboza, Paul Chap-pell, and Noel Soto. Not pictured is Cody Romeo.

Monday was Multiplicity Monday were students were encouraged to dress like as many people in their class as they could. Tuesday was Black and White day; Wednesday, Dress Like a Teacher Day/Teachers dress like a student; Thursday, Theme Day – Freshmen: Pretty Little Liars; Sophomores: Big Bang Theory; Juniors: Walking Dead; and Seniors: Grey’s Anatomy. On Friday the theme is Hartford Pride Day (wear Green and White).

A Pep Assembly is planned for Friday during 7th hour, the high school students will gather in the gymnasium to announce all winter sports and to pump each other up for the big game. Classes will compete against each other in a variety of games to win points toward winning Winterfest.

Posters made by each class will decorate the gymnasium.  This competition will be judged for points at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, February 3.  Decorations/posters are designed based on the class’s theme which is the same as Thursday’s dress-up. The overall theme is TV Series.

HARTFORD HS WINTERFEST PRINCE/PRINCESS CONTESTANTS… pictured (from the left): Front row – Brianna Morseau, Jessica Cardosa, Caitlin Steele, Abigail Garcia, Olivia Ziemer, and Angela Saldana; Back row – Javier Naranjo, Irvin Zavala, Xavier Salinas, Logan Goble, and William Martinez. Not pictured is Israel Ugalde-Rivas.

The Winterfest Queen and Princes