Press Release

Fastest-improving schools demonstrate improving effectiveness, adopting new practices, key to addressing growing K-12 crisis

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (March 6, 2018) – For the first time in the state’s history, Michigan public schools are able to compare their performance in some subjects to other states around the country for all students.  A new analysis of this historic new comparative data by The Education Trust-Midwest shows Michigan’s third graders showed the greatest decline in third-grade reading compared to other states participating in the same assessment consortium, despite nearly $80 million of targeted state investment to improve reading outcomes.

Michigan students also are among the lowest performing students among peers for third-grade reading, which is one of the most important indicators of lifelong student success and lifelong employment. This news is among the takeaways of the report released today, Top Ten for Education: Not By Chance, which delves deeply into the challenges Michigan schools and leaders face in raising student achievement.

“Michigan’s young students are just as bright and talented as other students around the country,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the nonpartisan think tank, The Education Trust-Midwest. “The question is not whether we should be investing in improving third-grade reading for Michigan children. The question is, how does Michigan become more effective at improving teaching and learning, as leading education states have done?”

The new report is part of the Michigan Achieves campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state by 2030. In this ongoing campaign, Michiganders of every background are invited to join the movement to improve public education — and send a message of great urgency to state and K-12 leaders that it’s time to embrace better practices.

It also celebrates three of Michigan’s highest improving high-poverty schools that are demonstrating that dramatic improvement can happen with the right systems, leadership and strategies.

“We can learn a lot from these schools that are bringing back best practices and smart models from leading states,” Arellano said. “We congratulate educators in Grand Rapids Public Schools and Wyoming Public Schools for their great work.”

Over the past few years, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Steelcase Foundation have been collaborating with Grand Rapids Public Schools and Wyoming Public Schools to employ leading-state models in Michigan schools. Today Wyoming’s Parkview Elementary ranks among the state’s highest improving high-poverty schools for subjects such as third-grade reading and math.

In Grand Rapids, these and other efforts have helped improve proficiency rates for Latino students. Stocking Elementary tops the statewide average for both Latino students and all students, in fifth grade math. Similarly, Sibley Elementary in Grand Rapids now ranks among the highest-improving elementary schools in both Kent Intermediate School District and statewide.

The report’s recommendations include providing more systematic support for teachers and principals, closer alignment between early childhood and K-12 systems, and supplying stronger curricula and instructional resources.

It also includes a comprehensive report card of the most important indicators of performance and improvement, showing how Michigan is measuring up on its journey to become a top ten education state.

The new report is based on nearly two years of research, including conversations with educators working at the classroom, school, district, intermediate school district and state levels. The newest M-STEP data reinforces national assessment findings about the decline in Michigan educational performance.

Ed Trust-Midwest launched the Michigan Achieves campaign in 2015 to build an effort to make Michigan a top ten education state, and the new report reiterates that call to action.

“We can turn things around in Michigan,” Arellano says. “Just as Michiganders worked together to turn around our ailing auto industry during the Great Recession and continue to move toward a more vibrant economy, today we need to work together to turn around our P-12 public school system. Visit to join us in being a voice for great public schools for all children.”

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The Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially for African American, Latino, American Indian, and low-income students. The Education Trust-Midwest believes in the power of intelligent education policy and practices — informed by data, research, and the successes of other states — to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.

To access the full report, Top Ten for Education: Not By Chance and join the effort, visit: