Michigan students losing out to other states in reading, math

Michigan students aren’t keeping pace with other states when it comes to showing improvement in areas of reading and math, according to a report by Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based education advocacy and research organization. The group used 10 years’ worth of data on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) given to fourth, eighth and 12th graders.

The report, “Stalled to Soaring: Michigan’s Path to Educational Recovery,” puts Michigan in the bottom five among states for learning improvement. Students lost ground in achievement overall, with performance about even across traditional schools and charters. 

Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest, blames the state’s lack of investment in education as a key factor for the disappointing results. Massachusetts and Tennessee are at the top of the improvement list because they have invested heavily in improving schools for many years. 

Massachusetts has been focusing on school improvement since 1993 when they  implemented more rigorous standards, created a more demanding high school graduation test, increased professional development and support for teachers, established a funding system putting more money into high poverty schools, and only allowed new charter schools that had a track record of quality. As a result, Massachusetts has consistently ranked near the top on the NAEP exam. 

Instead of the state relying so heavily on charter schools to miraculously improve student achievement, Arellano recommends increasing accountability and oversight of charter schools to make sure they are providing a quality education. She also wants to see more focus on teacher evaluations and teacher preparation.