Press Release

Michigan now ranks in bottom five states for learning progress in some subjects

Publication date: Apr 3, 2014

Contact info:

Mr. Sunil Joy,

The Education Trust-Midwest

(313) 757-4971

New report provides hope, practical recommendations to overcome state’s “education recession”

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (April 3, 2014)  — Michigan now ranks in the bottom five states for student learning progress over the last decade in some subjects, according to The Education Trust-Midwest’s new 2014 State of Michigan Education report.  Michigan is one of only six states in the nation that posted negative student growth in fourth-grade reading, according to new national assessment data.

Released today, the report and accompanying data demonstrate the most compelling evidence to date as to why Michigan must follow the path of our country’s leading education states – and support and invest in research-based strategies to boost student achievement.

Despite these devastating new data, the Ed Trust-Midwest report is hopeful.

“What’s happening in our state is not right – and it must change,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of Ed Trust-Midwest, a non-partisan research and policy organization dedicated to raising student learning for all Michigan students. “Most importantly, it can change.

“We can do this,” she added. “Michiganders have worked hard to overcome our economic recession. Today we must focus on another recession – an education recession. Our children are just as bright as the children in other states.  What needs to change is our collective decision-making – as parents, citizens, and education and policy leaders.”

The report — titled “Stalled to Soaring:  Michigan’s Path to Educational Recovery” — is the result of months of research and a year of Ed Trust-Midwest’s efforts to monitor where Michigan is making progress on improving public education.  The report findings include:

•    Michigan now ranks in the bottom five states for student learning progress in fourth-grade reading and math over the last decade.

•    Michigan is one of only six states in the nation that actually posted negative student growth in some subjects. Our fourth-grade students are learning at lower levels today than they did in 2003 in reading, an important predictor of future learning success.

•    Learning levels are similar in both Michigan’s charter school and traditional public school sectors.

•    Across all groups of students — white, African American, Latino, low-income, higher-income — Michigan’s student achievement rank has fallen in the last decade.

The good news is, other states have been demonstrating significant improvement in learning and provide Michigan with a roadmap of tested strategies and policies that work.

This month the Michigan Legislature will consider whether to use part of a $1 billion state surplus to make major new K-12 education investments in these proven strategies based on leading states’ work.

“In states across the country, children of color and low-income children are making such major gains in student learning, they are proving that poverty is not destiny,” said Sarah Lenhoff, ETM’s policy and research director.

For example, Massachusetts was much like Michigan not so long ago:  a post-industrial state trying to improve its public education system. Today it is so high-performing, it compares to the world’s highest performing nations.

Tennessee is the nation’s highest-improving state for student learning now, after struggling for years.  Its exceptional work on training its teachers to teach at higher college- and career-ready standards, and its investment in teacher coaching and a system of educator evaluation and support, has led to its dramatic learning gains, its leaders say.

“Many Michigan citizens and leaders want things to change, but wonder:  ‘How can we do this together?’ said Arellano.

“This report offers hope and inspiration — plus case studies, interviews with leading states’ education leaders, and practical recommendations — to help us move forward together.”

To request a community conversation about the 2014 State of Michigan Education report, please contact Donnell Green at

The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan’s only statewide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan.  We provide data-driven information and expertise to our state’s families, educators and policy and civic leaders about how to close our achievement gaps.


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