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State’s investment in early literacy undermined by lack of accountability, says policy expert

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Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust Midwest, says this new data reinforces how much work is left to be done.


The Michigan Department of Education on Wednesday released the results of its latest M-STEP assessment exams.

The big takeaways? Only 44-percent of students in grades 3-8 passed the literacy part of the exam. That's down from 2015, the first year the M-STEP was given.

Math scores saw some small gains, but still only slightly more than 37 percent of students scored as proficient. 

Amber Arellano is executive director of Education Trust Midwest. She joined Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to discuss these results.

Arellano said she expected to see low proficiency rates overall because in most states, there are declines after new standards are introduced. After a few years, Arellano said you often see significant jumps, but it requires investing in training and support for teachers. 

She said that is not what's happening in Michigan.

"We did not do that as a state. Overall, we just did not invest in building the right training and supports for teachers in making the transition. So, I think part of what we're seeing is kind of that lack of preparation and that lack of support. And so we have seen declines, and we’ve seen more decline in Michigan compared to many of its peers," Arellano said.  

Listen above to hear Arellano discuss what's at the root of Michigan's lagging literacy scores, and what needs to be done next. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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