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Our Kids Deserve Better

98% College-Bound. Only 43% College-Ready.

ACT Benchmarks
EGR ACT Benchmarks 2008-2012


  • Only 43% of EGR students met or exceeded the benchmark in all subject areas, that is, only 43% of students have a 50% chance or better of getting a “B” in all subject areas in first-year college courses. That seems like a pretty low number for a “tradition of excellence”
  • EGRPS recovered from its decline in recent years, but there has been no meaningful improvement in the last five years
Benchmark Defined

ACT Benchmarks are scores on the ACT that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of getting a “B” or higher, or about a 75% chance of getting a “C” or higher on corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. The chart above shows the percentage of students that met or exceeded the benchmarks in English, Math, Reading, and Science.

How Are We Doing vs. Our Neighbors?


  • Forest Hills, as an entire district, shows steady improvements and now exceeds the performance of EGR students, despite lower household incomes, higher poverty rates, and a much larger population of special education students
  • Forest Hills Central High School has a significantly higher percentage of students meeting all ACT benchmarks than EGR. What’s even more remarkable is that number increased 16 points in one year. Someone over there is doing something right. It shows that significant improvement can be made in a single year. We need some of that!

Mean ACT Scores

While ACT Benchmarks measure the percentage of student above a certain cut-point, benchmark data doesn’t tell us how good the actual ACT scores are. Below is a summary of mean ACT scores.

EGR Mean ACT Scores FH FHC


  • Forest Hills District has higher mean ACT scores in 4 out of 5 cases. It is equal to East Grand Rapids Schools in Reading.
  • Forest Hills Central High School exceeds EGR High School by significant margins in all areas, in many areas by a full point.

Summary Comments

  • 43% college-ready is pretty bad, especially when 98% plan on going to college
  • Forest Hills shows that a district can make huge strides in as little as a year. We, on the other hand, aren’t doing materially better than we were five years ago.
  • Let’s face it, education is a competitive marketplace. If we want people to move to EGR and pay higher taxes, the District better start delivering. There are plenty of other good alternatives nearby.
  • A tradition of excellence? Not by these numbers. Perhaps many years ago.
  • It’s time to stop being arrogant; it’s time to get to work.

What do you think?

Data Source:


  1. To start let me say that I disagree with the whole anonymity of this website. One cannot engage in a meaningful conversation unless one knows who they are talking to.

    As a 2008 graduate I do not like to see negative headlines about my alma mater. I understand that there is work to be done. On this topic in particular, however, you are way off base. Just because East is not making the same progress that Forest Hills is, is not reason for concern. When I went to East I heard over and over again from my teachers whgo had taught in Forest Hills about how they were made to “teach to the test” and how they loved their jobs in East because they taught the local curriculum which was and is at a much higher level.

    About college readiness. I am a recent college graduate and can tell you that my East education prepared me very well for college. A college freshman needs a broad base of knowledge in math, science, social studies, English, and foreign language. I am talking about four years of each core subject. They also need a good introduction to public speaking (think speech/debate/forensics grad req.), fine arts, health and physical education. On top of the academic courses they need to be well rounded with co-curricular activities to include atleast 8 seasons or interscholastic athletics, performing arts, civic minded pursuits, and other clubs of interest to them.

    Bottom line: A high ACT score is not the end all be all.

    About Special Education at East: I was not identified as needing an IEP but I know that when Dr. Shubel Was hired, we had a problem with over identifying students as needing Special Eduaction services. Those students receive a higher foundation allowance from the state so, the tendency was to over identify, even all the student received was an hour a day in a resource room. Which brings me to my last point. Special education student counts are reported as FTE. Most students receive special education services for half a day and many only for one hour so, your figures are a little misleading. When compared to total student counts it is way off because that figure is not FTE, that is hard body count.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Of course, the ACT is not the be all and end all; but it is a material factor.

      Because grades and their associated academic standards vary from school to school, colleges and universities use ACT scores as a common, leveling measurement on which to compare students. They also use them to establish initial cut points on admission standards. What other common standards would one use to begin to sort through thousands of applications? Sure, other criteria matter, too, in the ultimate decision, but if one doesn’t have the requisite test scores, that person will have to work much harder to be considered.

      And it’s not just admissions. Financial aid departments also use ACT scores separately in qualifying for merit-based financial aid—something every parent could use with today’s high cost of tuition.

      Regarding Special Education counts, the data are not based on FTEs. Student counts fall into (1) Students with IEPs and (2) Student without IEPs. The amount of time a student spends in special education services is irrelevant. You can download the data and corresponding data-field descriptions here.

      Regarding your experience (5-8 years ago), you have to leave room for the likelihood it may not reflect the current environment at EGRPS. In the five years since your graduation, the number of special ed kids has been cut by 35%. If there were significant legal changes or State compliance initiatives, we would see reductions of the similar magnitude in districts across the state. We don’t. No other district cut special education further or faster than East Grand Rapids Public Schools (45% cut from 2006 to 2011.)

      “One cannot engage in a meaningful conversation unless one knows who they are talking to.” You did just fine in engaging in meaningful dialogue. And you do know with whom you’re talking…a group of parents of special needs children.

      Thanks again for joining the discussion.

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