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The Education Trust—Midwest works in partnership with policymakers, educators, advocates, parents, community groups and others to advance the development and implementation of policies and practices that improve the educational outcomes for all of Michigan’s students.
In our work going forward, Ed Trust-Midwest will:
Act as a Watchdog: The Education Trust—Midwest shines a spotlight on policies and practices affecting public schools, especially when those policies do not serve the interests of Michigan’s most vulnerable students, including rural and urban children.
Advocate for Accessible and Transparent Data on Students, Teachers and Schools: Gaps in the collection, quality, accessibility and reporting of data leave far too many questions about what happens to Michigan students as they journey through our schools. Michigan parents and leaders cannot effectively advocate for students nor can they support appropriate school interventions without greater transparency, more helpful state reporting, and a high-quality statewide longitudinal data system.
Focus on Student Achievement, not Just Funding: Michigan kids are some of the nation’s lowest-performing students. And it’s not just our state’s urban and minority students—Michigan’s higher-income students trail their peers in almost 40 other states, according to 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress math results. Yet Michigan’s policymakers and school leaders continue to focus almost exclusively on funding issues -- while neglecting the needs of students, and how well those needs are being served. Michigan families deserve to get more for their tax dollars -- and our students need the best quality schools to compete in the global knowledge economy. Any conversations about state reinvention must include improving student achievement. Michigan can learn a lot from states such as Georgia and Florida, which have worked hard to improve their schools and student learning -- with positive results.
Innovate systematically to improve PK-12 and college graduation rates: Though there has been much hand-wringing about Michigan’s low high school and college graduation rates, little has been done to combat the problem. Michigan should borrow from successful strategies employed elsewhere, fashion a comprehensive approach to our state’s school completion problem, and bolster Michigan’s talent base.
Support and Improve Teacher Quality: Decades of research tells us that the single most important ingredient of improved classroom learning is a high-quality teacher. But the data also tells us that there are huge differences among teachers in their ability to teach kids. Despite all this, for years Michigan has not taken seriously teacher evaluation, tenure, or support. Michigan lacks an explicit set of innovative policies, systems and practices that focus squarely on teacher effectiveness in improving student learning. We must devise better ways to develop and support the capacity of educators to successfully teach rigorous content -- such as Michigan’s new state-required high school curriculum -- to a wide range of learners.