Kalamazoo Public Schools tops similar districts in key performance areas

Half of cover of report, showing two graduates from rear

A new report looks at college enrollment and performance of Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates, finding they outperform similar districts despite trailing state averages. The report, from the Upjohn Institute's Kathleen Bolter and Brad Hershbein, presents the comparisons in a series of charts and other graphical visualizations.

The report its titled: "Behind the Numbers: Comparing College-Going Outcomes of Kalamazoo Public Schools to Those of Similar Urban School Districts in Michigan."

Upper midwest map showing change in college enrollment
An image from the report shows Michigan's drop in college enrollment compared to other Great Lakes states.

The authors found that it wasn't enlightening to compare Kalamazoo's district to Michigan as a whole, as Kalamazoo serves more students with social, economic, and educational disadvantages than most Michigan districts. Kalamazoo Public Schools is also primarily urban and faces different challenges than the state’s many rural school districts.

They used a group of 29 mid-sized urban school districts as a comparison and found Kalamazoo generally outperformed these peers, although there are disparities among student groups.

In particular, Kalamazoo Public Schools' rates of college enrollment have been at least 10 percentage points higher than comparison districts. This is probably partly due to the Kalamazoo Promise, which provides free college tuition to district graduates.

Date: November 13, 2023