Press Release

The “Nation’s Report Card” demonstrates need for equitable investments, data-informed solutions

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Oct. 30, 2019) – Today, the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) released its new findings, showing Michigan did not make meaningful improvement for fourth-grade reading since 2003. 

The findings are among the mixed results from the recent NAEP release, also called The Nation’s Report Card which is the only national assessment to compare states’ performance and improvement for key subjects over time. The Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) also continued to place as the lowest-performing large urban school district among the 27 large districts participating in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which also was released today.

Other data from the NAEP highlighted some notable good news. Detroit, for example, showed a significant bump in performance for fourth-grade math from 2017-2019 following a dip in performance in 2017 and before that, years without meaningful improvement on the TUDA.

“Today is cause for a sobering celebration,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.” On one hand, it is heartening to see Detroit regain some of its lost improvement in 4th grade math from previous years. Also, between 2017 and 2019, Michigan low-income students led the nation for improvement in 8th grade math. These notable gains should be applauded.”

“On the other hand, the data suggest that Michigan is many years away from becoming a top education state for all students, particularly students who are most left behind in our state,” added Arellano. “This new data should be a clarion call for changing how we invest and support public education for all children in our state.”

NAEP is a biennial assessment that provides comparable data for every state in the nation, and 27 large urban districts, including Detroit.

In Detroit, progress has been made following DPSCD’s  focus on supporting teachers to improve student learning. After seeing substantial improvement on the 2019 M-STEP, DPSCD has also shown improvement in fourth grade math since 2017 on the NAEP. This recent improvement follows a decade of overall stagnation in grade 4 math and a dip in recent years.

“Future improvement depends on how we invest in students, in equitable opportunities and outcomes and in supporting educator talent,” Arellano said. “Early reading success is a great case in point:  Michigan’s lack of progress for early literacy continues to show the need for significantly more investment to attract, retain and support exceptional educators, and develop more impactful systems of improvement.”

Other key findings from the 2019 NAEP include:

  • Latino students: In fourth-grade reading, Latino students in Michigan have improved at a far slower rate since 2003 than Latino students nationwide. Over the past 16 years, Michigan Latino students have improved only about one third as much as Latino students nationwide.
  • African American students: African American students in Michigan have improved at a far faster rate since 2003 in fourth-grade reading than African American students nationwide.
  • Major gaps in opportunity remain: Between 2017 and 2019, Michigan low-income students led the nation for improvement in 8th grade math. Despite this good news, large socioeconomic gaps remain. Today, higher income students continue to outperform low income students in 8th grade math by 28 points.

Over the past few years, under Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s leadership, DPSCD has adopted high-quality curriculum and instructional materials, invested in educator talent and recently announced they will leverage educator evaluations to provide the type of personalized feedback and support that teachers need for continuous improvement.

Other states show the promise of focusing on supporting educators, including through continuous cycles of data-informed evaluation, robust feedback and quality professional development. For example, since 2003, Tennessee improved fourth-grade reading scores by seven points.