Michigan Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, is proposing a resolution to dissolve Michigan’s Board of Education. According to Kelly, Michigan’s academic standing has “fallen precipitously” in national rankings over the past decade, and the board has failed to keep students from lagging “farther and farther behind.”
Is Rep. Kelly correct that Michigan’s academic standing has fallen precipitously in national rankings during the past decade?
No. There was a slight drop in national ranking in certain subjects from 2007 to 2009, after which Michigan’s standing remained largely fixed. In addition, Michigan students’ academic performance has decreased slightly in some categories while improving in others. There has not been a significant and sustained decrease in overall performance in the past 10 years.
Kelly did not respond to Ballotpedia’s request for comment.
Rep. Tim Kelly was elected to serve Michigan’s 94th District in November 2012, and is currently the chair of the Education Reform Committee, as well as the Appropriations subcommittee on school aid. Prior to his election, Kelly served as education policy advisor to Gov. John Engler and also assisted in the creation of Michigan’s Department of Workforce Development.
The Michigan House Education Reform Committee on October 26 approved Kelly’s House Joint Resolution M by a vote of 8 to 6. As a proposed constitutional amendment, the resolution requires a two-thirds approval by both the House and the Senate. If both Chambers approve the resolution, it would go before voters in the next general election. If adopted, all board members would be relieved of their position, and the governor would have the power to appoint a state superintendent to oversee Michigan schools.
National Assessment of Educational Progress: 2007 to Present
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) publishes a bi-annual “Nation’s Report Card” of student achievement for grades 4 and 8, in the categories of mathematics, reading, science, and writing. NAEP testing is independent of states’ standardized tests.
For 4th graders Michigan’s average NAEP scores in math and reading decreased 1.25 percent and 2.26 percent, respectively, relative to the national average between 2007 and 2015. The state’s NAEP scores in science did not deviate relative to the national average between 2009 (the earliest data for science scores) and 2015.
For 8th graders, Michigan’s average NAEP scores for math did not change relative to the national average between 2007 and 2015. The state’s scores in reading increased by 0.38 percent relative to the national average in the same period, and in science decreased 1.38 percent relative to the national average between 2009 and 2015.
The drop in math and reading scores for Michigan 4th graders and for 8th graders in math does not constitute a precipitous decline relative to the national average, as Kelly claimed.
Michigan Educational Assessment Program
The Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), the state’s primary standardized test until 2015, tested students on math, reading, science, and social studies.
From 2009 to 2014, MEAP scores were largely improved, as illustrated in the following tables. The results do not support Rep. Kelly’s claim of a precipitous drop in performance.
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High School Graduation Rates
According to state data, Michigan high school graduation rates have increased from 2007 to 2016.
Michigan ranked 37th nationwide in high school graduation rates for the 2014-2015 school year (79.8 percent) as compared to the U.S. average of 83.2 percent. That was the same ranking as in the 2004-2005 school year, although the U.S. average was lower at that time (74.7 percent).
English Language Learner Programs (ELL)
In 2014, Michigan ranked 31st nationwide in percentage of public school students enrolled in ELL programs compared to 2004, when Michigan ranked 33rd.
ACT College Readiness Exam
Michigan Rep. Tim Kelly is proposing the dissolution of the state’s Board of Education, claiming that the academic standing of the state’s students has “fallen precipitously” in national rankings during the past decade.
Kelly’s claim is unsupported by a variety of national and state data. Michigan has consistently performed at or very near the national average—and even above in some cases—since 2007. On the state’s assessment tests, scores have largely improved over time, and graduation rates also are higher.
Sources and Notes
- Detroit Free Press, “There’s a push to eliminate the Michigan education board: Here’s why,” October 12, 2017
- The Nation’s Report Card, “Michigan Overview,” accessed November 14, 2017
- Michigan School Data, “Grades 3-8 Assessments, 2013-2014, MEAP, All Grades (Compared),” accessed November 14, 2017
- Michigan School Data, “Grad/Dropout Rates, 2011-12/2015-16, All Rate Years, All Students,” accessed November 14, 2017
- National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 204.20. Number and percentage of public school students participating in English language learner (ELL) programs, by state: Selected years, fall 2004 through fall 2014,” accessed November 14, 2017
- ACT.org, “ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2011, Michigan,” accessed November 14, 2017
- ACT.org, “The ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2017, Michigan,” accessed November 14, 2017
- ACT News, “2007 Average ACT Scores by State,” accessed November 14, 2017
- ACT.org, “The Condition of College & Career Readiness, 2016,” accessed November 14, 2017
- Rep. Kelly was recently nominated by President Donald Trump to be the assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education in the U.S. Department of Education.
- Michigan House Republicans, “Rep. Kelly named as chair of House Education Reform committee,” January 26, 2016
- Michigan House Republicans, “Tim Kelly, District 94,” accessed November 14, 2017
- MLive.com, “Resolution to eliminate State Board of Education clears House panel,” October 27, 2017
- Michigan Legislature, “Legislative Analysis: House Joint Resolution M,” October 11, 2017
- National Assessment of Educational Progress, “NAEP Overview,” accessed November 14, 2017
- In 2015, Michigan switched from the MEAP to a new online standardized test, the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress.
- Governing, “High School Graduation Rates by State,” accessed November 14, 2017
- Institute of Education Sciences, “Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006 Compendium Report,” September 2008
- The national average composite ACT score was 21.1 in 2007 and 20.8 in the 2015-2016 year.
- The average ACT score for a Michigan student in the 2016-2017 school year was 24.1, but Michigan had already transitioned to the SAT as the state’s primary standardized test as of spring of 2016, so the sample size is smaller and results are skewed from previous years.