This statement can be attributed to Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest:

This year’s results indicate that Michigan students are still performing below pre-pandemic levels — with persistent and troubling opportunity gaps for our most underserved students. And while it would be easy to wave off these results and say they were expected because of the traumatic past two years of unfinished learning during COVID-19, the truth is that our state has been behind our peers across the nation for far too long, and long before the pandemic.

“To address Michigan’s unfinished learning, we need both large systemic improvements, and we need to make the most of the immediate opportunities we have now.

  • Our state should provide immediate and ongoing support to districts and schools with evidence-based practices that will help guide them to spend their COVID-19 relief funding strategically and on what works. But because we know those dollars are finite, Michigan should move with great urgency toward real systemic change, starting with developing a fair school funding formula that ensures students with the greatest needs have the dollars and resources to support their needs.
  • We’ve made progress with this year’s state budget, and we applaud the governor and our state legislature for improving funding for at-risk students, English Learners and students with disabilities, but far more needs to be done. A new school funding system also must go hand-in-hand with transparent statewide systems to make sure these investments are being spent on strategies targeted at raising student achievement. Critically, those systems should both support schools and hold them accountable for student outcomes so that every Michigan student has an opportunity to realize their full potential.
  • As it now stands, our state lacks proper data and other systems to monitor how dollars are being spent and on which students. We also lack systems to show which interventions are being used and whether they are effective at accelerating student learning. Additionally, our state has no clear system in place to track whether dollars are reaching the classrooms of the intended students.

“The M-STEP data cannot be more clear in sounding the alarms that we must act now to put systems in place to radically improve supports and funding for our students and educators, as well as ensure far greater fiscal transparency, effectiveness and accountability so that every Michigan student has the opportunity to achieve.”