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Analysis: School districts struggling in math, reading, graduation rates

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(The Center Square) – New analysis shows Michigan school districts are underperforming against districts in other states.

Launch Michigan, a nonprofit public education organization, released a dashboard showing how Michigan school districts compare to similar districts in top-performing states in reading and math proficiency, graduation rate, and other metrics.

Launch Michigan’s analysis shows that Michigan districts are underperforming national comparison districts in key areas:

• 7 in 8 do worse than national comparison districts in math.

• 70% underperform in reading compared to similar districts in top-performing states.

• 71% underperform their national comparison districts in graduation rate.

Using publicly available data, Launch Michigan worked with AEM Corp. to create the district comparison dashboard tool. It compares individual school districts in Michigan to similar districts in states with high education performance: Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Launch Michigan compared districts to those in other states based on characteristics like district size, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity demographics, language learners, and students with disabilities.

“It’s important to remember that Michigan didn’t get here overnight,” Launch Michigan President and CEO Venessa Keesler said in a statement. “After decades of Band-Aid fixes and a lack of investment in education, Michigan has fallen far behind most states – not due to a lack of effort from educators but because of a broken system.”

Fewer than 33% of Michigan students are proficient in reading or math in the fourth and eighth grades, and fourth grade reading proficiency for Black students in Michigan is at only 10%, lower than in any growing peer state.

“Launch Michigan is pushing for system-level changes, including a stronger focus on career and college readiness and increased resources invested strategically and with a focus on equity to ensure all students have what they need to learn and be successful,” Keesler said. “While critical investments have been made in education in recent years, Michigan needs to build on those early steps and commit to fully reinventing our education system.”

Brian Calley, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan and Launch Michigan board member, said Michigan’s education system needs to improve.

“Michigan’s underperformance in key areas such as math and reading underscores the urgency of our situation,” Calley said in a statement. “The misalignment of our system with what our students need to succeed in the jobs of today and the future needs to be treated as an emergency. Launch Michigan’s advocacy for system-level changes is essential for driving progress and achieving world-class outcomes in our education system.”

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