Press Release

ANN ARBOR, MICH.  (November 1, 2011) — Michigan now consistently ranks in the bottom of states in both performance and improvement in student achievement, after a continued relative decline, according to data released today from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Michigan’s African American children now perform among the worst in the nation for black children.

Michigan’s continued descent – falling from a relative rank of 28th in 2003 to 35th today in the U.S. in fourth-grade reading – demonstrates the importance of educational leadership in the performance of our schools.  Other states have continued to improve their levels of student learning on the national assessment.  In comparison, Michigan’s performance on the NAEP – the best gauge of student learning across states — has remained relatively stagnant.

“The results announced today show some states are doing far better than others,” said Amber Arellano, Executive Director of The Education Trust-Midwest, a non-partisan education research watchdog that advocates for what’s best for Michigan students. “Indeed, our Great Lakes State is hardly great when it comes to educating our kids.”

Today’s NAEP results are particularly devastating for Michigan African American students, which now are at the very bottom for performance among all black students in the U.S.

“This is tragic – and it’s absolutely unacceptable,” Arellano added. “Other states are showing that Michigan can do dramatically better at educating all of our students, particularly our African American and low-income children.”

According to the data released today:

• Michigan’s low performance goes far beyond one subject. It consistently ranks among the bottom states in both performance and improvement, overall and by subgroup, in both subjects and grades, according to the NAEP data.
• Michigan’s rank on Grade 8 NAEP Math has declined from 34th in 2003 to 36th in 2011.
• Michigan has nearly a 34 point gap and the 2nd largest achievement gap in nation between White and Black students on the Grade 4 NAEP Reading.
• In 8th grade math on the NAEP, Michigan has nearly a 36 point gap between White students and African-American students.  This is the 5th largest gap between White and Black students on Grade 8 NAEP Math in the country.

Unlike Michigan, some states are leading the way in 2011 in performance or improvement since 2003, or both:

• While their achievement gaps remain large, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey ranked consistently among the top states in both performance and improvement, overall and by subgroup, in both subjects and grades.
• In fourth-grade math, Hawaii, Kentucky and Rhode Island were among the top improvers by overall scale score as well as for black, Latino and low-income students.
• Alabama made the greatest improvements in the nation in fourth-grade reading scores overall, for African-American students and for low-income students.  In eighth-grade reading, Connecticut’s black students made strong gains since 2009, improving by 10 points.

“Michigan’s challenge is to learn from the places making the most progress so we can accelerate and replicate those improvements for all of our children,” Arellano said. “We all need to play a part in improving our public schools in Michigan, for our children’s sakes.”

The Education Trust-Midwest’s mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income, African American, Latino and American Indian students in Michigan.  Ed Trust-Midwest is a non-partisan, independent watchdog dedicated to providing honest, reliable information to families and policymakers.  It is Michigan’s only state-wide policy, research and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students.  For more information, go to: