Report: Michigan students will still lag without changes

The report was published ahead of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s upcoming State of the State speech and budget presentation to a Legislature now fully controlled by Democrats for the first time in almost 40 years.

The group is advocating for 10 research-based steps to reverse the decline and get Michigan into the top 10 states by 2030. They include using federal pandemic rescue aid to boost intensive tutoring; making data from summative assessments available to districts more quickly and in a useful format for teachers and parents; and providing much more funding for disadvantaged students.

The Education Trust-Midwest is part of a coalition that wants lawmakers to create an “opportunity index.” In addition to receiving the base per-pupil amount, districts would get 35 percent to 100 percent more based on a concentration of poverty as well as additional funding weights of 80 percent to 100 percent for students whose first language is not English. There also would be increased weights and reimbursements for special education.

Of $3.7 billion in American Rescue Plan dollars that Michigan has specifically for schools, only about 20 percent has been spent, said Jen DeNeal, Education Trust-Midwest’s director of policy and research. All funds must be allocated before October 2024.

“We know that students had significant losses during the pandemic,” she said. “There is still a great deal of opportunity and a lot of money available. We think that districts need to be investing that money urgently into learning recovery, looking at things like high-dose tutoring and extra time in the classroom.”

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