Michigan Rankings on National Education Test Fall in 8th Grade, Stagnate in 4th; Proficiency Scores Flat

During budget debate, “More competition, not more spending,” analyst advises

For Immediate Release
Friday, Sept. 26, 2007

Contact: Dr. Ryan S. Olson
Director of Education Policy
989-631-0900 or

MIDLAND —Michigan’s performance on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress fell or remained the same in both reading and mathematics, according to results released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. The results underscore the need for the state to reject status quo approaches to public school reform, said Dr. Ryan S. Olson, director of education policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

"Lansing policymakers who are battling for higher public school spending ignore the well-established fact that simply raising more revenue for schools has not and will not improve results," Olson said. "Michigan public schools have received generous annual funding increases — total revenues reached more than $19 billion last year — and yet our NAEP results have basically stagnated, in some cases declined and in only one case improved by two points."

In eighth-grade reading, Michigan students ranked 32nd among the 50 states with an average scale score of 260 points, a decline from the state’s previous ranking of 29th on the 2005 NAEP reading test. Similarly, Michigan eighth graders ranked 36th in mathematics with a score of 277 points, having fallen from 33rd place in the 2005 state rankings. According to the 2007 results, 29 percent of Michigan eighth graders are "proficient" or "advanced" in mathematics — the same as 2005 — and 28 percent scored at those levels in reading in 2007 and 2005.

Michigan maintained its 2005 rankings for the fourth-grade NAEP reading and mathematics tests, ranking 30th both years in reading and 32nd both years in mathematics. In reading, 32 percent of fourth-grade students were proficient or above in 2007 — the same percentage as in 2005 — and in mathematics, 37 percent of students scored at those levels in 2007, one percentage point lower than in 2005.

"On the whole, our neighboring states are making gains in reading and math, while Michigan’s results are flat or falling, revealing yet again the need for incentives-based reforms in Michigan," Olson said. "Like every other part of American life, education can benefit from competition, which will provide incentives to lower costs and improve services. Student learning will improve when we adopt policies that create more competition in Michigan education — competition among those who administer and provide health benefits, those who provide support services and those who seek the privilege of educating Michigan children."

The Mackinac Center’s budget and education recommendations can be found on its Web site at www.mackinac.org.