Press Release

New 2023 State of Michigan Education Report projects state will remain in bottom 10 for 4th grade reading by 2030; data shows Michigan’s students dropped to 43rd nationally in 4th Grade Reading while Black students dropped to bottom five. 

(January 10, 2023) – Michigan is now ranked in the bottom 10 states nationally for 4th grade reading and is projected to remain stagnant at that level by 2030 unless dramatic, research-backed changes are made to address the state’s growing education crisis and worsening opportunity gaps for underserved students, according to new analyses of national assessment data released today by The Education Trust-Midwest. 

Though many states – even those that were among the top-performing before the pandemic – lost ground since 2019, students in Michigan, a state that was not systemically well-positioned dropped farther and faster amid COVID-19 on key subjects, according to research highlighted in The Education Trust-Midwest’s new 2023 State of Michigan Education Report, Beyond the Pandemic 

Additionally, while the effects of pandemic learning disruption touched classrooms everywhere – suburban, urban and rural — the impact was far greater for students and communities that have long been underserved, especially students of color and children from low-income backgrounds, according to national assessment data, further worsening longstanding inequities for underserved students. 

Among other highlights from the report: 

  • Michigan fell from 32nd in 2019 to 43rd in 4th grade reading an important predictor of a child’s future academic success and life outcomes – on the 2022 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP).  
  • For students from low-income backgrounds, Michigan ranked as the 11th worst state in 4th grade reading, falling far below the national average.  Michigan students from low-income backgrounds saw a substantial decrease of almost 8 points while higher income students saw a decrease of fewer than 2 points over the same period. That’s especially significant as 10 points on the NAEP represents roughly one year of instruction, according to research. 
  • For Black student performance, Michigan dropped into the bottom 5 for 4th grade reading in 2022, down from previously being ranked in the bottom 10 in 2019. 
  • Students in Lansing Public Schools and Saginaw School District lost an entire year or more of math and reading knowledge, while students in Birmingham lost the equivalent of 20% of a school year, according to a recent study by Harvard and Stanford researchers. Detroit Public Schools Community District lost approximately a year of instruction in both math and reading. 
  • The state also again lagged behind leading states for 8th grade math in 2022, ranked 26th nationally on the NAEP.  
  • Michigan ranked in the bottom 5 states for 8th grade math performance among Black students in 2022. 

“Every Michigan student deserves opportunity and access to the educational resources and support to realize a bright future, but that’s not the reality for many of our state’s students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “We have to act urgently to change that. Michigan’s students deserve the same opportunity for success as students in leading education states, where real transformation and real improvement in student performance are happening.”  

The report comes amid growing concerns about Michigan students’ college- and career-readiness and what their outcomes mean for the state’s talent force.  

The Education Trust-Midwest today called on state leaders to implement 10 research-based strategies, including urgently investing in educational recovery, transforming early education, implementing a new weighted system of school funding, and creating a strong system of fiscal transparency, as well as other strategies that have shown to be impactful for students, especially the most underserved, in leading education states.  

“By implementing research-based strategies for learning starting in early childhood and creating a fair system of school funding so all students have the resources and support they need to succeed, we can change the trajectory for our students, support educational recovery and acceleration for all Michigan students and truly make Michigan a Top 10 state for education,” Arellano said.  

The report also delves deeply into strategies to strengthen preschool to grade 3 outcomes. It highlights Michigan’s progress and commitment to improving Pre-K-3 education transitions while also identifying challenges and opportunities in quality, access, affordability, and the early childhood funding structure. 

Importantly, The Education Trust-Midwest’s report reiterates a call for a research-based weighted school funding formula that truly addresses the needs and advances the opportunities of students living in poverty. In December, The Education Trust-Midwest joined the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, a statewide coalition, calling for weights of 35% to 100% spread across twelve bands determined by concentration of poverty, as well as additional funding weights for English Learners ranging from 80% to 100%, depending on each student’s language proficiency, to provide them with the additional resources and instructional supports necessary for language acquisition. 

The proposed funding system includes increased weights and reimbursements to fully fund students with individualized education programs (IEP), including funding for special education expenses and specialized transportation costs and additional investments in rural education transportation costs, particularly for high-needs school districts. 

The Education Trust-Midwest’s full slate of recommendations outlined in the report – called the Opportunity 10 – include other research-based strategies, such as extended and expanded learning time and full access to rigorous coursework and preparation for all Michigan students.