Press Release

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (December 17, 2015) – This morning, the Michigan Department of Education released further details on student performance on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), taken by students in Spring 2015. The new assessment data provides more honest, reliable information on how well our students are prepared.

“As expected, student scores on the assessment are low across the state, but these scores are not evidence of declining performance by students or schools,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “We’ve increased expectations, to make sure that students are prepared what comes next – the next grade, careers or college – and are finally measuring those higher expectations. For the first time in a long time, we are being honest about where we are. Now we should use this information to improve teaching and learning in Michigan classrooms.”

As shown in recent national assessment data, the state’s national rank has continued to decline. Like the national data, M-STEP results show deeply troubling achievement gaps by race and income levels. According to the new data:

  • Only a third of Hispanic students are proficient in 4th grade reading and writing – 14 percentage points lower than the state average;
  • In 8th grade, 32 percent of students from low-income families were proficient in reading and writing, and just 17 percent were proficient in math;
  • Just 9 percent of African American students are proficient in 11th grade math, compared to 28 percent of all 11th grade students.

“These results reinforce the need for strong leadership in Michigan to provide strategic action and investments to help all Michigan students, no matter where they live or who they are,” Arellano said. “Our students need and deserve a world-class education to thrive in the 21st century economy.

The M-STEP was administered to students for the first time in spring 2015. The assessment measures Michigan’s career- and college-ready standards in English language arts and math for students in grade 3-8, and 11, and focuses on real world skills, including problem solving, critical thinking and deep comprehension. Data on student performance by building, district, and intermediate school district, is available at

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The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM) promotes high academic achievement for all Michigan students at all levels – pre-kindergarten through college — with a particular focus on African American, Latino, American Indian and low-income students. As a non-partisan research, policy and advocacy organization, ETM works alongside parents, educators, policymakers, and business leaders to transform public schools into institutions that serve all students well.