Focus Schools and Achievement Gaps

Flow Chart

What is a Focus School? 

Focus Schools are schools with the largest achievement gaps within the Top-to-Bottom ranking. It is defined as the difference between the average standardized scores of the top 30% of students and the bottom 30% of students. The ranking includes all open schools with two years of data for 30 or more students in two or more tested subjects.

Schools may be excluded if the bottom 30% cohort shows high achievement or high improvement. Once a school is designated as Focus School, the MDE offers support in analyzing achievement data, facilitating professional dialogue, and customizing interventions. 

What to do as a Focus School & How to avoid being a Focus School

Use the 2013-14 Achievement Gap Lookup Tool (download Excel file) to find your school’s composite gap, determine how far it is from the state’s cutoff line for Focus Schools, and identify the subjects with largest achievement gaps.

Guidelines for Focus Schools

Guidelines for Other Schools

Follow these steps: 

  • Step 1. Where is your school at the State Achievement Gap Ranking?
  • Step 2. Where is the gap? Identify the subject areas with largest achievement gaps.
  • Step 3. Identify the bottom 30% students in each subject with large achievement gaps: who are they?
  • Step 4. Understand the bottom 30% students: which student groups need the most focus to help to close achievement gaps?
  • Step 5. Provide additional support for the targeted group/subgroup of students: how to support these students?
  • Step 6. Track the progress of the target group/subgroup of students. 

MDE Resources

These resources were created to help Focus Schools.

Understanding Focus Status

Focus Schools At-a-Glance

Top-to-Bottom Ranking Diagnostic Worksheet  

Data Conversation Booklet  

2013-14 Top-to-Bottom (TTB) Ranking 

Beating the Odds Lookup Tool

Fall 2013 MEAP All Students Progress


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