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2017 test scores show Michigan students lag behind those in other states

An empty classroom
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44 percent of Michigan 3rd graders tested proficient in English and language arts. The scores for African-American, Latino, and low-income students were even worse.

The 2017 scores for the M-STEP — the standardized test that most students in Michigan take — have been released.

It’s a mixed bag of results, with some promising signs of growth and other areas that clearly need work. M-STEP (the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) replaced the old MEAP test in 2015. The test is administered online, and it's designed to measure students' knowledge in math, science, social studies, and English language arts.

Brian Gutman is with The Education Trust - Midwest. He says now that the state has three years of test results from M-STEP, there’s finally enough data to see trends there in student achievement.

Gutman says students in every grade are getting better at math, but there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made. The same was true with social studies and science. And in general, test scores for Michigan students don’t stack up very well against student performance in other states.

“In most subject areas in most grades, Michigan underperforms the vast majority of the country,” Gutman said.

The worst news from this year's exams was the scores on the English and language arts tests. State Superintendent Brian Whiston called the results “disappointing.” And even though Michigan has invested nearly $80 million in early literacy programs since fiscal year 2015, less than 50 percent of third-graders passed the English and language arts test.

“What’s even more troubling is we’re seeing scores go the wrong direction in English language arts almost across the board,” Gutman said. “And less than half of our students are proficient.”

There are bright spots — districts where scores are actually improving in English language arts. Gutman says Michigan education officials should spend more time looking at those higher-achieving districts, as well as other states, to identify best practices and find ways to improve education for students across the state.

Listen to the entire conversation with Brian Gutman, with The Education Trust - Midwest, above. 

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