By COLTON WOOD
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan lags behind most of the country when it comes to the biennial standardized test given to select fourth- and eighth-grade students, according to a new National Assessment of Educational Progress report.
The report shows that Michigan students in those grades made miniscule improvements from 2015 to 2017 in math and reading on the NAEP test.
And the overall picture is not good: Michigan ranked 38th in fourth-grade math, 33rd in eighth-grade math, 35th in fourth-grade reading and 30th in eighth-grade reading.
In specific scores, in 2017, Michigan fourth-graders averaged 236 on the math portion of the assessment, which was unchanged from 2015 and four points lower than the national average.
Average math scores of eighth-graders increased slightly from 278 in 2015 to 280 in 2017.
Fourth-graders averaged 218 in reading, a two-point increase from two years prior. Eighth-graders improved by a one point in reading, the only score close to the national average.
“We haven’t changed,” said Sarah Lenhoff, an assistant professor of educational leadership and educational studies at Wayne State University. “What that told me was we’re not improving those numbers we saw declining over the years.
“Our scores are stable, which is better than declining, but while Michigan has remained stable, other states are improving their numbers,” she said. “This makes me concerned. We’re being left behind.”
Despite the marginal improvement, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston said he wants to make Michigan a top-10 education state in 10 years.
“It is important that we keep working with intermediate school districts and local school districts to provide support and assistance to help all of their students achieve at higher levels,” he said.
“We keep moving forward on our goal to be a top-10 education state in 10 years and know that the early work we’re putting into motion will pay positive dividends in the very near future,” Whiston said.
Part of that plan, said William DiSessa, a communications officer in the Department of Education, is to focus on the “whole child” to improve student achievement and to make students college- and career-ready by increasing their pathways to success.
“As we implement the plan’s various strategies, we anticipate further academic improvements for students in our K-12 public schools,” he said.
While state education officials say the plan will work, Lenhoff said she isn’t sure.
“I don’t want to say it’s not possible,” she said. But it will require “serious change” from the Legislature, governor and Department of Education.
“There needs to be adequate resources put forth to fix this,” she said. “Currently, they’re not doing everything they can do to improve the schools.”
By COLTON WOOD