Spurred by the financial clout and political power of the DeVos family, Michigan has embraced choice. A charter advocate wrote earlier to claim that the state has made unparalleled gains, thanks to choice. I knew this was wrong, but was on a car trip and couldn’t look up the NAEP data. In fact, Michigan’s academic performance relative to other states is in free fall.


On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the only reliable barometer of test performance, Michigan has gone into a decline over the past dozen years.


Michigan, already sliding toward the bottom nationally for fourth-grade reading performance on a rigorous national exam, is projected to fall to 48th place by 2030 if the state does nothing to improve education.


That finding is included in a report out today from Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education research and policy organization based in Royal Oak. The organization analyzed more than a decade’s worth of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress — or NAEP, a tough exam given to a representative sample of students in each state.


In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. In 2015, the state was ranked 41st.


“We’re certainly not on track to become a top 10 state any time soon,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the organization. “It’s totally unacceptable for the economy, for business and especially for kids themselves.”
Among the 2015 NAEP results highlighted in the report:


• Michigan ranked 41st in fourth-grade reading, down from 28th in 2003.


• The state ranked 42nd in fourth-grade math, down from 27 in 2003.


• It ranked 31st in eighth-grade reading, down from 27th in 2003.


• It ranked 38th in eight-grade math, down from 34th.


The report is focused on the fourth-grade reading results because of how crucial it is for students to be able to read well by the end of third grade. But students have also struggled in math.


The achievement problem crosses demographic lines. Consider how various demographic groups in Michigan compared with similar demographic groups nationwide in fourth-grade reading in 2015: White students in Michigan ranked 49th, higher-income students in Michigan ranked 48th, and black students ranked 41st.


The problem? Many other states are outpacing Michigan, which has posted mostly stagnant — and in some cases declining — results on the NAEP.


“When you look at leading states … they’re like on a rocket ship and we’re on a snail,” Arellano said.


State officials are busily mapping plans and goals to become one of the top 10 states in the nation. But they are falling farther and farther down towards the bottom. If they keep up the DeVos formula, they will soon rank among the Southern states, where academic achievement has historically been low because of underfunding and high poverty.


Detroit has most of the charter schools in the state of Michigan. It is the lowest ranking urban district on the National Assessment of Education Progress. Many of the charter schools are far worse academically than the chronically underfunded public schools.


Don’t let anyone tell you that Michigan or Detroit have been improved by choice. The only reliable measure is the NAEP, and both Michigan and the city of Detroit are in terrible shape.