State of Michigan Education Report 2023: What Parents Need to Know

We read Michigan's annual education report so you don't have to. Here's the crucial information parents should know.

In 2015, the Education Trust-Midwest created Michigan Achieves!, a campaign that aimed to make Michigan one of the top ten education states by 2030. However, Michigan’s latest annual education report shows that not only is the state nowhere near securing a coveted top 10 spot, it’s quickly slipping down the ranks. 

Based on the most current data, Michigan is now predicted to remain at 43rd in the nation for 4th grade reading, and drop from 26th to 29th for 8th grade math by 2030. Here’s a breakdown of all the information Michigan parents need to know from the State of Michigan Education Report 2023 — including the state’s plan to recover from academic decline. 

What is the Annual Education Report? 

This report provides information on student assessment and teacher quality. Assessment data on academic achievement used in this report comes from standardized test reports, like the M-STEP, MI-Access, PSAT and SAT. The test scores represented in the 2023 report reflect the 2021-2022 school year. 

2021-2022 test scores

Since 2006, Michigan’s standardized test scores have remained stagnant. Since the pandemic, they have been dropping. Here are some crucial takeaways from last year’s test scores:

  • Michigan has an early reading crisis. More than half of its 3rd graders struggle with reading. The percentage of 3rd graders who demonstrated sufficient literacy skills slipped from 45.1 percent to 41.6 percent compared to last year’s report. 
  • 5,600 Michigan students received reading scores low enough that they could be required to repeat third grade — that’s a 20 percent increase from last year. 
  • Black students, Latino students, students with disabilities, and students from low income backgrounds in the 3rd grade fell at least 12 percentage points below the statewide average in 2022. A similar pattern was also exhibited by 7th grade test scores. 

Is COVID-19 to blame for decline in academic performance? 

Learning disruption caused by the pandemic negatively impacted students across the county. However, Michigan still performed worse than other states, even when you take pandemic disruption into account. Before the pandemic, Michigan was one of 18 states that had worse early literacy performance than it did in 2000. After the pandemic, reading scores for 4th graders plummeted even further, dropping by more than twice the national average. 

Which students are most affected?

This report found that students who were already under-resourced — including students of color, English learners, students with disabilities and rural students — were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s effects, furthering the academic achievement gap that they face. Here are some key takeaways about the disparity in Michigan’s education system:

  • While students in Lansing Public Schools and Saginaw School District lost more than an entire year of math and reading knowledge during the pandemic, Birmingham students lost only 20 percent. 
  • In 2022, Michigan slid from being a bottom 10 education state for Black students to a bottom 5 state, based on 4th grade reading scores. Similarly, while Michigan is 26th in the nation for math, it is the 8th worse state in math for Black students. 
  • Black students in Michigan are 4.5 times more likely to have to repeat a grade than white students. 
  • Michigan’s school districts with the highest poverty levels receive 5 percent less total funding than districts with the lowest poverty levels, despite serving underperforming students with significantly greater needs.
  • Researchers estimate that low-income students should be provided with twice the funding than students from higher income backgrounds. Low income students in Michigan are only supported by an additional 11.5 percent of state funding.

How does Michigan improve? 

To break the cycles of academic inequity and under performance, Michigan has created the Opportunity 10, a research-based, 10-step plan to invest in the education of its students. Some highlights are: 

  • The state plans to invest its federal funding fairly and with urgency. Michigan has more than $2 billion for recovery, including federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief dollars which must be spent by 2024. Currently, Michigan school districts have spent only 20 percent of this federal funding. 
  • Michigan plans to prioritize educator recruitment, retention and support. This includes formally recognizing and paying teachers who fill multiple roles, such as coach or mentor, expanding salary incentives for both new and veteran teachers, and overhauling Michigan’s inequitable funding system. In 2021-2022, the state set aside retention bonuses of $1,000 for teachers in high poverty districts. Moving forward, the state plans to offer retention bonuses between $7,000-$10,000. 
  • Targeted, in-person tutoring will help students catch up and achieve high standards. One tutor will meet with 1-2 students for an extended period of time and use skill-building lessons that are customized to the student’s needs and align with the school’s core curricula. 
  • To maintain honesty and transparency, Michigan will not change any of its standardized testing. Using the same tests and standards will help continue to identify where students are falling short. The state also plans to provide teachers with smart growth tools that can provide student projection reports that assess if a student is on track to graduate. 
  • The passing of bi-partisan legislation that would require schools to screen early elementary students for characteristics of dyslexia could be a significant help in a state that struggles so severely with early literacy. Dyslexia is a common barrier to reading success, and impacts anywhere from 5 to 17 percent of students.

How parents can use this information

Strong reading skills build a solid foundation for advanced learning as students progress through their school years. Without these early literacy skills, Michigan’s students may struggle to keep up in the classroom. Here are some reading and literacy skills you can practice at home to ensure your child is set up for success:

  • Read aloud at home or listen to audiobooks in the car. Start with a slow pace, and emphasize any challenging words. It may be helpful to start with a book your child already knows and loves so they can follow along.
  • Help your child sound out words as they read aloud. Research shows that reading aloud can help kids develop literacy accuracy, fluency and comprehension. Take turns reading passages of a favorite book, or ask them to repeat each section that you read aloud. 
  • Discuss what your child is reading at home and in school by asking them open-ended questions. The Institute of Education Sciences says these conversations can “develop higher level thinking and language skills, such as predicting, problem solving, or contrasting.” 
  • Model good reading and writing habits. Learning Ally, an organization that helps struggling young readers, says seeing a parent reading their own books can show children the importance of reading. Set up a cozy reading nook so you and your child can read stories aloud together or enjoy some quiet side-by-side reading time.
  • Do a nightly reflection with your kiddo. Research has shown that simply talking with your child can help expand their vocabulary, sentence structure and comprehension skills. Try doing a mindful activity, like Rose, Bud and Thorn.

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Metro Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for metro Detroit families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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