By Brian Gutman
Today’s release of the results from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) conducted last spring means that for the first time in many years, Michigan has reliable data for measuring how well students and schools are performing against Michigan’s high academic standards.
“Michigan has taken the important step of setting high expectations for all of our students and using an honest tool to measure our progress. Now is the time to build on this work and move the needle forward,” said Brian Gutman, director of public engagement at The Education Trust-Midwest. “Changing the test or the test content now – as some have proposed – would force Michigan to reset the clock on our data yet again.”
“These results also show that stubborn achievement gaps remain,” added Gutman. “This reinforces the need for Michigan to commit to honest and meaningful accountability for the learning of all Michigan students – which is glaringly missing from Michigan’s new education plan.”
- In 2017, statewide proficiency rates in eighth grade math were about four times greater for White students (39.2 percent) than for African-American students (10.1 percent) and about double the rate for Latino students (19.5 percent).
- Proficiency rates for low-income students have also remained devastatingly low. Only 31.8 percent of Michigan’s low-income eighth graders were proficient in English language arts and just 16.9 percent were proficient in math, in 2017.
While Michigan has made modest progress in many grades and subject areas, third-grade proficiency rates in English language arts have declined for the third year in a row. Statewide proficiency in English language arts for third-grade students has slipped from 50 percent proficient in 2015 to 44.1 percent proficient in 2017.
This is especially significant, as Michigan has put an increased focus on early literacy in recent years, including nearly $80 million in budget allocations since fiscal year 2015-16. Given that early literacy is a key predictor for a student’s future academic success, the state must continue its commitment to reading improvement, collect data on existing literacy spending and ensure that future investments support the work of the most successful efforts and draw on best practices from leading education states.
In 2015, Michigan replaced the 44-year-old MEAP test with the M-STEP. The M-STEP aligns with Michigan’s academic standards, uses questions that require problem solving and critical thinking skills, and provides data that can be compared with other states. It is the only state assessment given to all general education students in Michigan and takes less than one percent of classroom time. @DetroitSchlTalk
The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM) is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially African-American, Latino, American Indian and low-income students. ETM believes in the power of intelligent education policies and practices – informed by data, research, and the successes of other states – to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.