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December 7, 2017
By Ballotpedia Staff

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.”[1]

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.[2][3]

Michigan’s rankings have also not declined in high school graduation rates, percentage of public school students in English Language Learner classes, or average composite ACT score.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

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.[10][11] 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.[12]

The Michigan House Education Reform Committee on October 26 approved Kelly’s House Joint Resolution M by a vote of 8 to 6.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Next: 4th grade science →

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.[16]

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.[3]

Click to navigate:

Students proficient in mathematics
Students proficient in reading
Students proficient in writing
Students proficient in social studies
Students proficient in science

High School Graduation Rates

According to state data, Michigan high school graduation rates have increased from 2007 to 2016.[4]

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.[17] 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).[18]

English Language Learner Programs (ELL)

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 5.2 percent of Michigan public school students were enrolled in ELL programs in 2014, up 1.7 percentage points from 2004.[5]

In 2014, Michigan ranked 31st nationwide in percentage of public school students enrolled in ELL programs compared to 2004, when Michigan ranked 33rd.[5]

ACT College Readiness Exam

The average composite ACT score for Michigan students dropped from 21.5 in 2007 to 20.3 in the 2015-2016 year, according to the ACT’s Profile Reports.[19][20][6][7]

Michigan ranked 29th nationwide in composite ACT score in the 2006-2007 school year compared to 32nd during the 2015-2016 school year.[8][9]


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.[1]

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.[2][3][5][6][7][8][9]

See also

Sources and Notes

  1. ↑ Jump up to:1.0 1.1 Detroit Free Press, “There’s a push to eliminate the Michigan education board: Here’s why,” October 12, 2017
  2. ↑ Jump up to:2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Nation’s Report Card, “Michigan Overview,” accessed November 14, 2017
  3. ↑ Jump up to:3.0 3.1 3.2 Michigan School Data, “Grades 3-8 Assessments, 2013-2014, MEAP, All Grades (Compared),” accessed November 14, 2017
  4. ↑ Jump up to:4.0 4.1 Michigan School Data, “Grad/Dropout Rates, 2011-12/2015-16, All Rate Years, All Students,” accessed November 14, 2017
  5. ↑ Jump up to:5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 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
  6. ↑ Jump up to:6.0 6.1 6.2 ACT.org, “ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2011, Michigan,” accessed November 14, 2017
  7. ↑ Jump up to:7.0 7.1 7.2 ACT.org, “The ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2017, Michigan,” accessed November 14, 2017
  8. ↑ Jump up to:8.0 8.1 8.2 ACT News, “2007 Average ACT Scores by State,” accessed November 14, 2017
  9. ↑ Jump up to:9.0 9.1 9.2 ACT.org, “The Condition of College & Career Readiness, 2016,” accessed November 14, 2017
  10. Jump up 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.
  11. Jump up Michigan House Republicans, “Rep. Kelly named as chair of House Education Reform committee,” January 26, 2016
  12. Jump up Michigan House Republicans, “Tim Kelly, District 94,” accessed November 14, 2017
  13. Jump up MLive.com, “Resolution to eliminate State Board of Education clears House panel,” October 27, 2017
  14. Jump up Michigan Legislature, “Legislative Analysis: House Joint Resolution M,” October 11, 2017
  15. Jump up National Assessment of Educational Progress, “NAEP Overview,” accessed November 14, 2017
  16. Jump up In 2015, Michigan switched from the MEAP to a new online standardized test, the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress.
  17. Jump up Governing, “High School Graduation Rates by State,” accessed November 14, 2017
  18. Jump up Institute of Education Sciences, “Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006 Compendium Report,” September 2008
  19. Jump up The national average composite ACT score was 21.1 in 2007 and 20.8 in the 2015-2016 year.
  20. Jump up 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.