Will Betsy DeVos do to the nation what she has done to Michigan?

A new study by Professor Brian Jacob of the University of Michigan demonstrates that Michigan’s gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress were the lowest in the nation. Now we know why DeVos was unable to explain the difference between “growth” and “proficiency” at her Senate hearings. She really has no idea that her own state has been stagnant as her philosophy of choice took hold. Brookings has not yet posted the study online. But the Detroit News reported its results and interviewed Jacob about his findings.

A new analysis of results of a national educational test shows Michigan students have continually made the least improvement nationally of scores since 2003.

The study, by University of Michigan professor Brian A. Jacob, of scores of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), also found that Michigan students were at the bottom of the list when it comes to proficiency growth in the four measures of the exam.

That analysis comes less than six months after the release of the Michigan’s Talent Crisis report by Education Trust-Midwest that found Michigan’s students are falling far behind their peers across the nation. The ETM report found that Michigan is in the bottom 10 states for key subjects and grades, including early literacy.

Fourth-grade scores have been stagnant. In eighth-grade, Michigan has not kept pace with gains made by other states.

Jacob, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, said there is no single explanation of the Michigan rankings.

“I believe that there are a number of factors responsible for Michigan’s weak performance: a lack of adequate state and local funding for schools, the highly decentralized nature of governance that makes it difficult for the state Department of Education to develop coordinated reforms, the lack of regulation and accountability in the charter sector, and the economic and political instability that have plagued Detroit and other urban areas in the state,” he said.

“Another reason is the relatively decentralized nature of education in Michigan,” he added. “The long tradition of local control in the state has made it harder for the state Department of Education or others to establish coordinated policies.”

Jacob said those factors particularly affect Detroit. “The political and financial instability of Detroit over the past decade or two undoubtedly had a major impact on student performance in the city and surrounding areas,” he said.

As expected, Republican officeholders said that throwing money at the problem won’t help. Obviously, charters don’t help either, since they are flourishing and unaccountable and not producing better results than public schools.