M-STEP Results Show Need to Build on Progress, Not Reset the Clock

Results from the Michigan Student Test for Educational Progress (M-STEP) released last Tuesday, means that for the first time in many years, Michigan has reliable data for measuring how well students and schools are performing against Michigan’s high academic standards.
While Michigan has made modest progress in many grades and subject areas, third-grade proficiency rates in English language arts have declined for the third year in a row. Statewide proficiency in English language arts for third-grade students has slipped from 50 percent proficient in 2015 to 44.1 percent proficient in 2017.

While Michigan has made modest progress in many grades and subject areas, third-grade proficiency rates in English language arts have declined for the third year in a row. Statewide proficiency in English language arts for third-grade students has slipped from 50 percent proficient in 2015 to 44.1 percent proficient in 2017.

Michigan has taken the important step of setting high expectations for all of our students and using an honest tool to measure our progress. Now is the time to build on this progress.

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.

The following is an excerpt from a September 5, 2017 article in The New York Times Magazine. Please click here for the full text.
Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students. But a Brookings Institution analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings.
Charters continue to be sold in Michigan as a means of unwinding the inequality of a public-school system in which districts across the state, overwhelmingly African-American — Detroit, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, Flint — grapple with steep population declines, towering financial obligations, deindustrialization and the legacy of segregation. By allowing experimentation, proponents argue, and by breaking the power of teachers’ unions, districts will somehow be able to innovate their way past the crushing underfunding that afflicts majority-minority school districts all around the country. In reality, however, a 2017 Stanford University analysis found that increasing charter-school enrollment in a school district does little to improve achievement gaps. And in unregulated educational sectors like Michigan’s, there’s evidence that charters have actually increased inequality: A 2015 working paper by the Education Policy Institute determined that Michigan’s school-choice policies “powerfully exacerbate the financial pressures of declining-enrollment districts” — and districts with high levels of charter-school penetration, the authors found, have fared worst of all. Today, all but seven states have some version of a charter law, though few have adopted a model as extreme as Michigan’s.

New Concerns in Michigan’s Fourth Take at an ESSA Plan

The following is an excerpt from an August 25, 2017 blog posted on Please click here for the full text.
This year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), and states across the nation, have put together new education plans describing how the state will implement the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. This process has presented a tremendous opportunity for state leaders to set ambitious goals, learn from the educational successes of others, and shape how schools and educators will be supported to better meet the needs of their students.
Despite the opportunity and early promising signs, the MDE has opted to squander this chance for improvement and to dig deeper into the failed policies of the last decade. After declaring that Michigan would reverse the tragic academic declines of recent years and become a top ten education state, this plan for Michigan education helps to ensure just the opposite.
Michigan’s most recent proposed plan is cause for new concerns around missing and hidden accountability, and expecting the bare minimum from our lowest-performing schools and schools with the widest achievement gaps.
After years of educational decline, now is the time to outline an ambitious plan to use data and research to ensure that every Michigan student has access to the high-quality education that they deserve. The MDE’s current proposal sets our state up for continued decline by standing firmly with past failure, rather than with future success.

Noteworthy News

Capital Update

The House Education Reform Committee and the House School Aid and Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on Thursday at 9:30am in Room 352 of the State Capitol Building. Agenda: An update from the Michigan Department of Education on the state’s ESSA plan and state assessments.
The State Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 9:30 am, in the Ladislaus B. Dombrowski Board Room on the Fourth Floor of the John A. Hannah Building in Lansing. The full agenda will be available here. The meeting will also be streamed online.


Tweet of the Week