Michigan faces an “education recession” that will have lasting impact for generations unless the state makes smart choices now about redirecting its K-12 public schools.
The phrase “education recession” comes from the folks at Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education agency that has been advocating for better results for Michigan’s children.
The group recently released its 2014 State of Michigan Education Report, and the results were, to be blunt, alarming.
The group says that in 2013, Michigan students scored below the national average in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test given to a sample of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders nationwide.
A review of NAEP data over a 10-year period found Michigan students are at or near the bottom in comparisons with the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools. Specifically:
• Michigan was in the bottom five for learning progress for fourth-graders over the last decade, coming in 49th in reading improvement and 51st in math improvement.
• For eighth-graders, the results were slightly better but still not much to brag about, ranking 38th in reading improvement and 39th in math improvement.
As Ed Trust staff wrote in a recent viewpoint in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is one of only six states that had negative student growth in some subjects — students learning at lower levels than their counterparts did a decade ago. Need more eye-opening data to consider? No matter the race or family income, Michigan children of all backgrounds are lagging in achievement compared to those from other states. And learning levels were similar for both charter and traditional public schools.
Ed Trust officials believe there is a chance for a coordinated approach to improvement, that a growing number of key players are reaching consensus on needed reforms that will raise learning levels. Data show that the top-achieving states set high standards for educational attainment and then invested in “educator training, coaching and a system of support and thoughtful evaluation.”
Every time Michigan lawmakers consider an education issue, they can move the state forward. Or not. Ed Trust’s report should be mandatory reading for lawmakers, because letting our K-12 students fall behind is no plan for success.
— LIVINGSTON DAILY PRESS & ARGUS