Press Release

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (April 10, 2018) –New national assessment findings show Michigan student achievement continues to be relatively flat and underperforming for key indicators of not only learning but also for Michigan students’ future employment and life outcomes. Across the nation, the majority of states have performed higher – and the majority also have made more improvement in student achievement – than Michigan on the national assessment since 2003, according to a new analysis by The Education Trust-Midwest.

Released this morning by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, the new data finds Michigan’s rankings in some subjects have improved since 2015 not because Michigan has made significant improvement in student learning, but primarily because some other states saw more stagnation and declines than Michigan did since the last national assessment in 2015.

“While the data released today is new, the story that they tell is not,” said Education Trust-Midwest executive director Amber Arellano. “The new national assessment confirms that Michigan student achievement has largely been standing still, while many other states race ahead.”

“Combined with other recent data and analyses, the new national assessment paints a troubling picture of a state K-12 education system in real crisis,” Arellano added. “Other recent analyses and data show student learning has continued to decline in recent years. These trend lines demand urgency and commitment from all of our state’s stakeholders.”

According to the new national assessment data:

  • In fourth-grade reading, despite a slight increase since 2015, Michigan students are still achieving at slightly lower levels than they were in 2003 on the national assessment.
  • While leading states have made clear progress in raising student achievement levels, Michigan has remained stagnant or made only slight improvement overall. For example, in eighth-grade math, Michigan increased by only three points since 2003 while the top performing state in the nation, Massachusetts, improved by nearly 11 points since 2003.
  • Detroit continues to rank last among large urban districts for fourth-grade students. And in grade 4 math, student scores in Detroit posted one of the largest declines in the nation – with average student achievement dropping nearly 5 points below Detroit’s 2015 performance.
  • Performance for African American students in 4th reading shows some improvement, increasing just over 4 points since 2015 and nearly 8 points since 2003. This progress should be built upon moving forward, as African American students continue to be underserved. Michigan still ranks among the bottom ten states for African American performance in 4th grade reading. In grade 4 reading, opportunity and achievement gaps persist, resulting in a more than 25 point average performance gap between African American students and their White peers.

The new data echo the findings of a recent report released by The Education Trust-Midwest, Top Ten For Education: Not By Chance. That report highlighted how Michigan has failed to make meaningful progress towards the goal of becoming a top ten state because of weak implementation and lack of strategy. For example, third-grade reading scores have declined over the past three years on the state assessment, M-STEP. And among states in the same assessment consortium, Michigan had one of the lowest third grade reading proficiency rates – and posted the largest declines in this key subject area, which is a predictor for students’ later learning levels, employment and other positive life outcomes.

“In order to have a clear picture of the state’s academic performance and improvement, we really need to look at the data in context,” said Mary Grech, a data and policy analyst at The Education Trust-Midwest who worked on the new analysis. “This is why it is so important to have multiple reliable, comparable indicators of student learning, such as the NAEP and M-STEP, and to look at data over time, for all groups of students, and compared to other states.”

“The inches forward Michigan made on this year’s national assessment are still not sufficient to bring us back up to being a top education state,” said Arellano. “Now is the time for Michiganders to join together and demand the same high-quality education that we expect for our kids to be provided to every Michigan student.”

Michigan families and other stakeholders who would like to join the Michigan Achieves campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state can sign-up at