The Detroit Data and Democracy Project reports that the children of Detroit have seen deteriorating results since the state takeover of their public schools in 2009.
Dr. Thomas C. Pedroni of Wayne State University reported that the manipulation of statistics has been a defining characteristic of state control of the schools:
One year ago this month I watched in disbelief as the Emergency Manager of the moment, Roy Roberts, declared on NBC’s nationally broadcast Education Nation Detroit Summit that Detroit Public Schools had surpassed the Michigan average in 14 of 18 MEAP categories. At the time I suspected that Snyder’s appointee, a former auto executive with no education background, had simply misspoken or just didn’t quite have his facts straight. What bothered me more was that none of his carefully selected co-panelists—including EAA Chancellor John Covington and Detroit Parent Network President/CEO Sharlonda Buckman—batted as much as an eye over Roberts’ jubilant mispronouncement. A clearly impressed Chelsea Clinton declared that when the day came she would gladly enroll her own children in the public schools of Detroit.
As I dug through the MEAP results on the Michigan Department of Education’s website that day—confirming that DPS students had scored behind the state average in all 18 tested categories, typically by 20 percentage points or more—I made a discovery I had not anticipated: in most categories, children in Detroit’s public elementary and middle schools had fallen even farther behind their state peers since 2009. That year (2009) was the year that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared Detroit “ground zero” for education reform, and the State once again took away local democratic control of Detroit’s schools.
I was particularly troubled that, since 2009, the youngest children taking the test—3rd, 4th, and 5th graders—had declined the most. Although already so far behind their statewide peers, Detroit’s youngest test-takers had somehow lost even more ground.
Read what happened when he tried to publish this story in the Detroit News.
The latest release of test scores in Detroit in 2014 show that the children continue to lose ground compared to their peers in the rest of the state.
Sadly, grievously—the new MEAP data, released February 28, reveal the further deepening of a devastating pattern. In both reading and math, Detroit’s children have fallen even further behind their state peers. Somehow, in 10 of the 12 grade-level math and reading MEAP tests, Detroit’s children under state control in DPS and the EAA have lost even more ground.
Fourth graders in Detroit’s state-managed schools actually progressed marginally in reading relative to their Michigan peers, bringing the proficiency gap down by 0.8 points to 29.5 percentage points. But in every other tested grade– third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth– they fell even further behind in reading. In math, Detroit’s sixth grade students in state-managed schools gained marginally on their Michigan peers (by 0.3 points) and are now only 27.7 percentage points behind. But they lost even more ground to their statewide peers in all the other tested grades– third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth.
Pedroni says it is another lost year for the children of Detroit.