Press Releases

Ed Trust-Midwest Applauds Snyder's Education Agenda

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (January 20, 2015) –  Tonight, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder laid out his 2015 agenda for Michigan education, calling for the state to improve early literacy and teaching effectiveness, and voter approval of a sales tax increase that would both fund roads and provide stronger school funding. 

Statement on Michigan Road- School Funding Proposal

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (December 18, 2014) – Today, legislative leaders announced a plan to increase road funding and create a new revenue stream for schools. The proposal, funded through a penny sales tax increase, will require approval of Michigan voters through a ballot proposal, expected in May 2015.
The following statement may be attributed to Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest:


Report: Michigan’s state policies ignore best practices

ROYAL OAK, MICH.  – A new report, published today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), paints a troubling picture of Michigan’s charter school landscape.
NACSA, a pro-charter school organization, ranks Michigan as last among five states with many charter school authorizers, which are the organizations responsible for approving, monitoring and closing individual charter schools.


ROYAL OAK, MI (November 13, 2014) – After more than 40 years of the multiple choice-style MEAP test, Michigan is upgrading to a new generation of student learning assessments. Today, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released more information to parents, teachers and school administrators about the statewide assessment system that students will take this spring.

More Michigan Schools Meet Learning Goals, but Not for All Student Groups

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (August 13, 2014) – Today the Michigan Department of Education released its newest results from the state’s public school accountability and public reporting system, now in its second year. The data show about 29% more schools reached most of their goals this year than last.

Education Trust-Midwest Statement on MME results

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (July 7, 2014) – Today the state’s release of the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and ACT College Readiness Assessment results reveal slight progress in achievement among Michigan high school students. Unfortunately, the state is still struggling with low achievement, while large achievement gaps remain among African-American, Latino and low-income students.

Statement from The Education Trust-Midwest on the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Equity Strategy

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (July 7, 2014) — Today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced his intention to focus new energy on the problem of unequal access to quality teachers. Congress first outlawed this practice in 2002.  But that provision of federal law has mostly been ignored. 

Statement: Governor Snyder, State Legislature Invests in Michigan Students, Teachers

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (June, 13 2014) -- The following statement was released by The Education Trust-Midwest in reaction to the passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget. The statement may be attributed to Ed Trust-Midwest Executive Director, Amber Arellano.

“Yesterday, the Legislature took important steps toward investing in Michigan’s students and teachers in the FY15 budget.

Ed Trust President Kati Haycock speaks at Mackinac Policy Conference

MACKINAC ISLAND, MICH. (May 29, 2014) - Today Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, told state leaders at the Mackinac Policy Conference that Michigan must build on its recent investments in quality pre-school programs to raise achievement for students at all levels -- and to close troubling opportunity gaps that too often leave low-income students and students of color behind.

Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Michigan's Ban on Racial Preferences

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2014) – “If our nation’s schools provided an education to students of color anywhere near the quality of education they provide to white students, we would feel a lot more comfortable with the Supreme Court’s decision today to let stand the decision of Michigan’s voters to ban the use of race as a consideration in admission to the state’s colleges and universities. The United States is far from having an equitable K-12 educational system where the color of students’ skin truly does not matter.

Michigan now ranks in bottom five states for learning progress in some subjects

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (April 3, 2014)  -- Michigan now ranks in the bottom five states for student learning progress over the last decade in some subjects, according to The Education Trust-Midwest’s new 2014 State of Michigan Education report.  Michigan is one of only six states in the nation that posted negative student growth in fourth-grade reading, according to new national assessment data. 

Michigan Student Performance Weak

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (February 28, 2014) – Michigan student performance in grades 3-9 is weak and stalled, according to data released today from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP). Seventy percent of fourth-graders were proficient in reading and only 34.5% of eighth-graders were proficient in math in 2013.

Ed Trust-Midwest Testimony to Legislature on Educator Support and Evaluation

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (February 19, 2014)  -- Today the Education Trust-Midwest testified to the Michigan legislature in support of the state’s plans to develop Michigan’s first statewide system of educator support and evaluation, alongside a new K-12 data system that can be used to drive early interventions for children as early as grades K through 3.

Ed Trust-Midwest supports Michigan’s college- and career-ready standards, assessment

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (February 5, 2014)  -- Today the Education Trust-Midwest testified to the Michigan legislature in support of the state’s plans to implement a new college- and career-ready state assessment system – and higher Michigan standards for teaching and learning – during the coming school year of 2014-15. 

Education Trust-Midwest Testimony to the Michigan Legislature on State Assessment Options

(February 5, 2014) -  Today Amber Arellano, Executive Director, and Sarah Lenhoff, Director of Policy and Research of the Education Trust – Midwest, gave testimony to the Michigan Legislature on Michigan’s state assessment options. Their testimony follows.

Ed Trust-Midwest Applauds Snyder's Focus on Teaching Quality & Support

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (January 16, 2014)  -- Tonight, the Education Trust- Midwest applauds Governor Rick Snyder for his recognition of the importance of teacher support and evaluation in his State of the State speech.

New Data Show Detroit Student Performance Lowest in Nation for Urban Students

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (December 18, 2013) – Detroit Public School student achievement continues to be devastatingly low – and has changed very little in the last four years – according to today’s release on student performance in the country’s largest urban school districts from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Support, Invest in Michigan Teachers and Students

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (December 12, 2013) -- Michigan students continue to fall behind their peers in other states in learning. According to 2013 national assessment data, an appalling 69 percent of Michigan fourth-graders cannot read on grade level – an indicator of future academic success. Neither our students nor our state's economic future can afford to wait to turnaround our state's educational system.
In a new report, the Education Trust-Midwest provides a common sense roadmap for the state to put its schools, educators and students on a path to higher learning.

Op-ed: Michigan needs a smart, statewide system to measure student growth

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (December 5, 2013) -- Today the Education Trust-Midwest joins leaders at Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Muskegon Public Schools, Middle Cities Education Association and Democrats for Education Reform- Michigan in calling for a smart state-wide system to measure reliable student growth.

Michigan Achievement Makes Little Progress

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (November 7, 2013) –  Michigan now ranks in the bottom third of all states in fourth-grade reading, fourth-grade math, and eighth-grade math, according to new data released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Michigan’s fourth-grade African-American students continue to rank last in math, compared to their counterparts around the country.

ETM Statement on Proposed New “A to F” School Accountability System

(November 13, 2013) -- Thank you for giving us the chance to speak to you today about HB 5112, the proposed A to F school accountability bill. I am Amber Arellano, the executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest. With me today is Daria Hall, the Director of K-12 Policy Development at the national Education Trust. Daria is one of the country’s foremost experts in school accountability. Ed Trust – Midwest is a non-partisan, data-driven education research and advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels – pre-kindergarten through college.

Ed Trust-Midwest cheers lawmakers, calls for next steps on Common Core

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (October 29, 2013) – Cheering the Michigan House, the Education Trust-Midwest thanks policymakers on both sides of the political aisle today for making students a priority as the legislature reaffirms our state's commitment to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The Education Trust-Midwest thanks lawmakers for their support of Common Core, high student standards

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (October 24, 2013) - After hours of testimony and weeks of analysis, today the Senate voted to trust the judgment of Michigan’s local school districts and teachers and restore funding for Common Core State Standards. The Senate resolution is an affirmation of the Common Core and Michigan students, who will now be better prepared to succeed after high school. Higher standards will also brighten our state’s economic future by producing graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete for 21st century jobs.  

Coalition letter on Michigan's NCLB waiver proposal

Submitted to the Michigan Department of Education on April 30, 2012 by The Education Trust- Midwest, Detroit Parent Network, Democrats for Education Reform, Detroit Regional Chamber, StudentsFirst and Excellent Schools Detroit.

Dear State Superintendent Mike Flanagan:

Statewide survey shows strong, bipartisan support for higher academic standards

         Contact info:
David Zeman
         Director, Content and Communications
         The Education Trust-Midwest

Honest Information on School Performance: Michigan Needs Clarity in Measuring Quality

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (August 20, 2013) – Today the Michigan Department of Education released its results from the new state-wide school accountability and public reporting system, now being implemented for the first time. While the new system provides important information on school performance, it lacks the clear, coherent information that parents need and educators deserve to improve their schools’ performance.

Quality Teaching for All Students: A Top Priority for Michigan

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (July 24, 2013) - Calling the improvement of Michigan’s teaching quality one of the most important issues facing the state, the Education Trust-Midwest applauds the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness’ final report as it is released today. The report outlines Michigan’s proposed first state-wide educator evaluation and support system.

Intentionally Successful: New Mini-Brief Finds College Efforts to Increase Student Success Work

WASHINGTON (July 17, 2013) — Employing new data reported to the U.S. Department of Education by colleges and universities, The Education Trust finds encouraging news for those concerned about closing access and success gaps in higher education. 

New Analyses Examine State Track Records in Performance and Improvement

WASHINGTON (July 9, 2013) — Common Core standards have the potential to dramatically raise the rigor of instruction – and the level of achievement – in schools across the country. But these standards will also demand more of our students and teachers than ever before. While there is much work to be done in all states to lift all students to the college- and career-ready level, a new analysis shows that the stretch is far bigger in some states than in others.

Huge achievement gaps remain in Michigan high school performance

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (June 24, 2013) – Michigan’s high school students gained almost no ground in the last year on the Michigan Merit Exam and ACT – the assessments used to gauge whether students are meeting academic standards in literacy, math, science, and social studies.

“Though Michigan has seen some gains in achievement on the ACT in recent years, we’re still not making major gains in student learning among our high school students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the nonpartisan Education Trust-Midwest, a nonprofit organization that works to raise performance and close achievement gaps in Michigan.

Failing charter operators keep expanding in Michigan

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (May 23, 2013) - A new Education Trust-Midwest analysis of charter schools scheduled to open in Michigan this fall shows chronically low-performing operators are continuing to expand rapidly in the state, regardless of what’s best for students. The data demonstrate Michigan needs to seriously consider holding charter authorizers more accountable for school quality.

ETM analysis on approved charter operators - fall 2013

Last week the Michigan Department of Education released a list of charter schools that have been approved to open in Michigan in the fall of 2013.

Proposed changes to Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC)

Amid a flurry of debate over whether to provide yet more flexibility in the state's high school curriculum, the Education Trust-Midwest is relieved that students will continue to receive rigorous math instruction under a measure now being considered in Lansing.

HB 4465
, now in the Michigan House, initially would have watered down the requirement that all Michigan students pass Algebra II or have that content embedded in other coursework. Backers argued that students pursuing a vocational or technical career path did not need the skills and knowledge gained in Algebra II.

But that sentiment is not in line with numerous studies, or with the view of many Michigan employers, who note that manufacturing, agricultural, military and other jobs available to Michigan high school graduates now and in the future increasingly require the kind of sophisticated math and critical-thinking skills gained from Algebra II.

Setting the record straight on Common Core

The Education Trust-Midwest joins a broad coalition of business, civic, education and parents groups in supporting the Common Core State Standards in Michigan.

Educators across Michigan are already working hard to implement the standards, which create consistent and rigorous goals for what our students must learn in math, reading and writing to be successful in college or the workforce. The standards also are Michigan's best hope for ensuring that parents can compare how their children are performing compared with students in other states.

Special interests are now attempting to scuttle Michigan's focus on high standards through a budget maneuver in the state House that would block funding for Common Core. The group behind this tactic contends Common Core is a liberal directive from Washington intended to force our schools into a national curriculum.

Strong business and education support for Common Core in Michigan

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (May 3, 2013) – Michigan business, civic and education leaders are calling on Michigan lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder to continue on the path of implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to ensure that all Michigan students are college and career ready. 

Diving into 2012 MEAP data: Student performance in cities across Michigan

The Education Trust-Midwest has pored through the 2012 MEAP data to offer additional insight on how different groups of students are faring in Michigan. The attached charts show student performance by income level, race and ethnicity in Michigan, as well as in dozens of cities across the state.  We focused on two key portions of the MEAP test: 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade math.

Please contact David Zeman, ETM’s communications director, if you have any questions about this data.

Rising MEAP scores, but enduring achievement gaps in Michigan

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (February 11, 2013) - The Education Trust-Midwest commends steady improvements by Michigan K-12 students in some key subjects on the 2012 state academic assessments. 

10 buzz-worthy education issues to watch in Michigan in 2013

Education Week’s annual report on the state of American education recently gave Michigan a “D” in K-12 achievement. Sadly, the grade is well-deserved, given our relative decline on national assessments, and our dismal achievement gaps for African-American students. So it's not surprising that education will continue to dominate the heated debate in Michigan over how to improve learning for our students. 

Here are 10 buzz-worthy education issues to watch in Michigan in 2013:

1. Who defines “quality” education?

Back in 2011, some Lansing leaders were puzzled when we demanded quality standards for charter school operators wanting to expand in Michigan. Today, lots of folks talk about education “quality.”

Everyone wants to own the “quality” school badge. But few are willing to attach research-based strategies to the label. Quality is more than a marketing slogan -- it requires quantifiable performance measures if it's to hold meaning. 

More than two decades of research in Michigan and nationally reveals which “quality” reforms truly help students – and which are merely political smoke. Here’s hoping real reforms trump politics this year.

The Sincerest Form


By Amber Arellano, Executive Director 


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are feeling quite flattered these days in Michigan.


Just a few years ago, Ed Trust-Midwest opened with a common-sense agenda to raise student achievement in Michigan. Our interdisciplinary team has focused on what research tells us are the most important levers for improving student learning, such as better supporting and developing our schools’ educators. We've argued that we need to focus on proven strategies that produce quality schools, rather than continue to engage in endless debates over school governance that haven’t raised student learning for our state.

Michigan residents support Ed Trust-Midwest agenda, saying supporting teachers is best route to improving education, Center for Michigan study shows

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (January 22, 2013) - The Education Trust-Midwest applauds the Center for Michigan for gathering public sentiment on how to best improve education in Michigan. CFM’s report, released today, slices through the myriad education reform packages in Lansing to reveal the education strategies that Michigan residents most value – as well as strategies they appear to largely reject.


The year-long study revealed an overwhelming public mandate for giving public school teachers stronger training, feedback and support so they can improve in the classroom. Nearly nine-in-10 state residents said that supporting teachers was “important” or “crucial” to improving K-12 education in Michigan. More than 7,500 diverse residents from across Michigan took part in the study, participating in more than 250 community conversations and two large-sample polls.

Charter School Growth In Michigan Brings Cautionary Tale On Quality

By Joy Resmovits

(Story originally ran in the Huffington Post on January 17, 2013)

Charter schools are the fastest-growing sector of public education, taking root in most U.S. states, thanks to a big push by the education reform lobby and the federal government's Race to the Top competition. And since the movement's inception in the early 1990s, its founders have learned a few things.

Across charter schools, there are similarities in what works to boost student achievement. A 2011 study identified five successes of charter schools: "frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time and high expectations."

But just because charter schools have the flexibility to become successful in these ways doesn't mean all of them meet those five criteria. In fact, most probably don't.

Education Trust-Midwest applauds Michigan high-growth charter schools; shares concerns about low-growth charters highlighted by CREDO research study

ROYAL OAK, MICH.  (January 15, 2013)  --   The Education Trust-Midwest applauds, with a note of caution, a new report on charter performance by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). The study  found that a typical student in a Michigan charter school gains more learning in a year than his or her public school district school peer, amounting to about an additional two months of learning annually in reading and math.

“As an organization committed to what’s best for all students, we commend Michigan charter schools that are performing at high levels,” said Amber Arellano, executive director for Michigan’s only statewide organization devoted to closing the state’s achievement gaps and raising learning for all students.

Michigan Education Achievement Authority statement by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) we are committed to creating conditions that prepare children for long-term success and independence. Paramount to this effort in our home state of Michigan is making sure all kids are supported by a quality education system that is accountable and held to consistent, high standards across the state.


WKKF supports a myriad of innovative education and learning practices – like the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) – and partnerships between schools, families, communities, government and business that align and strengthen conditions that ensure healthy, whole child development.

NEW REPORT: Our schools need help to better support and evaluate Michigan teachers

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Michigan teachers are our education system’s most valuable asset. And yet as a state, we’ve neglected to make major investments in building our teachers’ ability to teach, unlike a growing number of leading states.  


The lack of such state investment, and its impact on teachers and children, is clear. A new report, “Good for Teachers, Good for Students,” by the nonprofit Education Trust-Midwest finds that Michigan’s local districts and charter schools are struggling mightily to better support teachers to build their skills to raise students’ learning.  High-quality teacher evaluation systems do exactly that, but they are still a rarity in Michigan. 


An Education Trust-Midwest examination of 28 local teacher evaluation models used across Michigan during the 2011-12 school year found that all of them lacked at least one important research-based component, such as reliability. The findings underscore the vital importance of the state’s new effort – expected to be completed by the spring – to create research-based state standards needed to guide local evaluation models; ensure teachers are being evaluated fairly and soundly; and establish a statewide value-added growth model to be used by all schools to be one measure among many in all local evaluation models.

Executive Director Amber Arellano's testimony to the Michigan Legislature on Education Achievement Authority legislation

LANSING, Mich. (November 19, 2012) - The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan’s only statewide, nonpartisan advocacy, research and policy center focused on one central question: What is best for Michigan’s students, particularly our low-income and minority students? This question guides all of our work at Ed Trust-Midwest – and it is what brings me here today to discuss House Bill 6004 on the EAA. Thank you for taking time today for this important discussion.

Ed Trust-Midwest supports research-based, data-driven strategies that boost student achievement for all children, while closing gaps for low-performing students.

We are hopeful about the potential of the EAA to provide high-performing schools to children in the city of Detroit.  Indeed, we were the first organization in Michigan to publicly call for the implementation of the state’s first recovery district, which eventually became the Education Achievement Authority.

Education Trust-Midwest: State should increase standards, not make it easier for schools to be deemed 'proficient'

Amber Arellano is executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based school advocacy group.

The group has served as a watchdog, focusing on efforts to improve urban education and closing the achievement gaps between white and minority students.

Education Trust-Midwest was a leading voice in calling for the state to raise its standards for Michigan Education Assessment Program exams, once accusing the state of "lying" to parents because students needed to get as few as 40 percent of questions correct on some tests to be deemed "proficient."

Arellano is concerned that the state is change standards again on how schools are deemed needing to be placed in a category where they would get extra assistance for improvement.

Arne Duncan to speak at The Education Trust 2012 national conference

Exciting news! We’re thrilled to announce that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will speak at The Education Trust 2012 National Conference. Sec. Duncan will join us at our annual Dispelling the Myth Awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday, Nov. 8. Admittance will be open only to those registered for the conference.

Each year, the Ed Trust honors schools that dispel damaging myths by producing striking academic results while serving large numbers of low-income students and students of color. Through strong leadership and excellence in instruction, these schools are closing gaps and educating all their students to high levels.

Public Comment on Waiver Amendments from the Education Trust Midwest and Michigan Democrats for Education Reform

Submitted to the Michigan Department of Education on October 11, 2012 by The Education Trust--Midwest and Democrats for Education Reform.


Re: Proposed Amendments to Michigan’s Approved ESEA Flexibility Request


Dear Superintendent Flanagan,


The Education Trust—Midwest and Michigan Democrats for Education Reform respect the efforts of the Michigan Department of Education to give schools credit for improving student performance. We are hopeful that the new accountability system, as approved through the ESEA flexibility process, will identify schools in need of support, give parents and stakeholders important information about school performance, and provide a path forward for improving educational outcomes for all students in Michigan.

Why We Fight For Students

By Amber Arellano, Executive Director, The Education Trust--Midwest

If you visit Lansing as I often do, you will quickly notice that the state capital’s cafes and restaurants are filled with lobbyists representing every imaginable industry – but few are working for what’s best for students.

Giving voice to vulnerable students is why the Education Trust was founded more than two decades ago in Washington D.C. – and why Ed Trust-Midwest opened in Michigan more than two years ago.

Run for and by Michiganders, Ed Trust-Midwest is the only statewide, nonpartisan center of research and data focused on what’s best for students, particularly for our state’s low-income and minority children.

This newsletter, our first, is one way we hope to keep you informed on important, often rapidly changing developments in education policy and practice in our state.

Statement by Education Trust-Midwest on Michigan Merit Curriculum study

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (October 22, 2012) - A study released today shows some positive gains for the first class of Michigan students to be in school since the adoption of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, which was designed to ensure all high school students have access to rigorous coursework. The results also show that the MMC did not create an explosion of the high-school dropout rate, as was feared by some when the merit curriculum was first passed in 2006.  And, scores improved for many students in ACT testing, the national college admission exam.

Today’s results
, compiled by the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research from data on 70,000 Michigan public high-school students, also found that the MMC seems to have had a very positive effect on the ACT performance of top quartile students. For bottom quartile students, there was no impact of the MMC on two ACT subjects (science and reading) and a slight negative impact on ACT math and writing.

Guest column: Charter school bill should add protections for quality

The Oakland Academy in Portage has fulfilled much of the bold promise of the Michigan charter school movement. The elementary school, run by the nonprofit Foundation for Behavioral Resources, routinely exceeds state averages in math and reading.

But in the northeast corner of Michigan, a more troubling portrait of charter quality emerges. Students at Alpena’s Bingham Arts Academy are mostly poor and white. The school ranks in the bottom 13 percent in student performance – well below even other low-income schools.

Bingham is run by Mosaica Schools, an out-of-state charter operator approved to run more charters this fall despite a troubling record in Michigan. Five of its six schools were ranked in the bottom 33 percent of public schools last year. Two Mosaica schools were closed amid concerns about their “academic and financial viability,” state records show.

NEW REPORT: Giving Michigan teachers the support they deserve

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (September 20, 2012) - Teachers, like all hard-working professionals, want to get better.

Last year, for the first time, every Michigan public school was required to measure teacher performance using four rating categories. The idea was that by expanding the range of ratings most districts use, teachers would get more individualized assessment and feedback on their strengths and weaknesses -- and appropriate professional development -- to help them improve, and in turn boost student learning.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

An Education Trust-Midwest survey of large Michigan school districts found that more than 99 percent of teachers were rated effective or highly effective on their 2011-2012 performance evaluations. Only 0.2 percent of teachers surveyed -- that's 2 in every 1000 teachers -- were rated ineffective.1

Commentary: Detroiters deserve the best from their schools - even if they're charters

It's midsummer but school bells will ring again across the city in a few short weeks.

Families are busy choosing schools for the fall, and there are good things happening in Detroit, which is quickly becoming one of the epicenters of innovative education reform.

Education reform in Detroit has been difficult to sustain for a variety of reasons: a revolving door of school leaders, dysfunctional school boards, poor management of resources, and too many adults more interested in partisanship and winning political arguments than in educating kids. But encouraging signs that reform is taking root abound.

Achievement gaps lurk within some elite Michigan schools, state report shows

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (August 2, 2012) – As Michigan begins to implement its new statewide school accountability system, the Michigan Department of Education today released its annual Report Card on Michigan schools. And schools that have been lauded for years as models of high achievement received some unpleasant – but ultimately necessary – news.

The state lists 358 schools as “Focus Schools” – not among the worst schools in the state, but a troubling signal that many of their students are being left behind. Some Focus schools actually rank high in overall student achievement. But they are on this newly created list because they have the largest performance gaps between the bottom and top 30 percent of students in their school.

Michigan Wins Federal Waiver from NCLB

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (July 19, 2012) –  The Obama administration has announced Michigan is one of the states that has won a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  This news means Michigan is now approved to implement a new statewide school accountability system that will have a profound impact on schools across the state.

However, it is still unclear what the full impact will be on our state’s students. Michigan has not released the final agreement approved by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  In the first round of waiver winners -- which were announced earlier this year by Duncan -- many states’ approved final waiver agreements were dramatically different from the proposals the states had submitted originally to the federal government.

MME Test Results Show Achievement Gaps Growing Among Michigan High School Students

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (June 28, 2012) - Michigan has among the worst student achievement gaps in the nation and, as state high school test results released today show, these gaps are growing wider.

Results from the Michigan Merit Exam -- the test taken this spring by Michigan 11th graders -- show that African-American and low-income students are falling even further behind the state’s white students.  While white achievement has risen slightly over five years, scores for black, Latino and poor high school students remain grim.

Achievement gaps in 8th-grade science show need for meaningful accountability in Michigan schools

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (May 10, 2012) – As Michigan education leaders prepare to dramatically overhaul our state's school accountability and support system, new test results show our state's African American and low-income students remain woefully behind their white and more affluent peers in science.

"The new national assessment data, released today, is yet another confirmation that we need new approaches to supports and interventions for struggling schools that teach many of our minority and low-income children," said Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest, Michigan’s only statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization focused on what’s best for students.

Michigan NCLB Waiver Proposes Dramatic Changes to State School Accountability, Other Systems

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (May 3, 2012) – As the Michigan Department of Education prepares to submit its revised proposal to the Obama administration to waive the No Child Left Behind Act, The Education Trust-Midwest is releasing an analysis of the proposal to provide non-partisan information to Michigan families, policymakers and other stakeholders about its potential impact on our state’s schools and students.

The U.S. Department of Education has offered Michigan a rare opportunity to devise new educational systems that could better serve our state.  In return, the Obama administration is offering to waive some NCLB provisions.

Michigan Council making progress in building reliable evaluation system for Michigan educators

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (April 27, 2012) –Today the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness released its initial report on the development of the first statewide educator evaluation system, a pioneering and overdue effort to improve Michigan public schools and student achievement.   The Council offers a sound, meticulous plan for its work – and rightly calls for legislative funding to pilot the proposed new system and full-time staff.

For years, too many Michigan teachers have received cursory support and monitoring of their classroom performance, if they received any attention and training at all. The Council’s detailed report aims to reverse this trend.  It recommends a pilot of three respected teacher observation models – expected to be fully developed later this year – to ensure that teacher evaluation tools are fair, reliable and consistent, from school to school and across the state. The Council also announced it would issue recommendations on other components of its evaluation model – including how to best measure student growth – later this year. The Education Trust-Midwest is gratified by the urgency the Council is bringing to its mission.

Many Michigan Students Not Meeting Higher MEAP Standards

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (February 15, 2012) – The Michigan Department of Education released the 2011 Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) results today, which revealed that many Michigan students are not achieving at high levels.  While Michigan students showed slight gains in reading and math from 2010, declines in writing, social studies, and science underscore the state’s lagging academic performance. And the results in some districts for African-American, Latino, and low-income students were nothing short of miserable.

In 2011, 67.7 percent of Michigan’s fourth-graders were proficient in reading. A mere 29.4 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in math. These numbers actually represent improvements from 2010. In other subjects, 2011 marked a decline for Michigan students, with lower scores in fifth-grade science and sixth- and ninth-grade social studies.

New Report: White and Higher-Income Student Achievement in Michigan Losing Ground to Other States

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (February 9, 2012) – A new report by The Education Trust-Midwest shows Michigan’s higher-income and white students’ achievement has declined significantly compared with other states.  While the poor performance of low-income and minority students has been the subject of intense debate in the past year, national data show Michigan students – from all socioeconomic backgrounds – have lost ground to their peers across the nation since 2003.

In fourth-grade math, for instance, Michigan’s white students have fallen from 13th in the nation in 2003 to 45th in 2011 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). White students now rank behind 34 states and the District of Columbia in fourth-grade reading – an important predictor of future achievement.

Ed Trust-Midwest Statement on Michigan Charter School Expansion Vote

ROYAL OAK, MI (December 15, 2011) – Today the Michigan legislature passed Senate Bill 618, which will expand charter schools in Michigan.  While we support Senator Phil Pavlov, the bill’s sponsor, in his efforts to improve our state’s public education system, we are deeply concerned the legislation did not include language that would have ensured that new charter school expansion will be one of high quality for all of our students.

Leading states such as Ohio make sure quality is a deciding factor in the expansion of existing charter schools and operators.  Our students in Michigan deserve the same assurances of quality schools as do the children of Ohio and other states.  Even when considering for poverty, there is dramatic variation in Michigan charter schools’ quality.

Statement to the Michigan Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness

The Education Trust-Midwest thanks the Governor’s Council members for dedicating their time to this incredibly important work – and to Senator Phil Pavlov, former Rep. Tim Melton and Rep. Margaret O’Brien and the other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who provided so much thoughtful leadership on the issue of teacher evaluation.  The Education Trust-Midwest is a non-partisan education policy, research and advocacy organization focused on improving public education for all Michigan students, particularly for low-income children.  While many organizations advocate for what’s best for the adults in our education system, we advocate for what’s best for students, based on research and data.

Ed Trust-Midwest Statement on the 2011 NAEP TUDA Reading and Math Results

ANN ARBOR, MI  (December 7, 2011) – Detroit’s student achievement continues to be devastatingly low -- and has changed very little since 2009 -- according to today’s release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP’s Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) for fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading and math shows Detroit’s performance is abysmal, ranking last in fourth-grade math, fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. Detroit ranks second to last in eighth-grade reading. Detroit’s African American performance, which ranked last in 2009 for fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading, continues to be last in fourth-grade math.  Though Detroit Latino students’ scores increased slightly in fourth- and eighth-grade reading, they are still performing far below the national average.

Ed Trust-Midwest Statement on the 2011 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Results

ANN ARBOR, MICH.  (November 1, 2011) — Michigan now consistently ranks in the bottom of states in both performance and improvement in student achievement, after a continued relative decline, according to data released today from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Michigan’s African American children now perform among the worst in the nation for black children.

Michigan’s continued descent – falling from a relative rank of 28th in 2003 to 35th today in the U.S. in fourth-grade reading – demonstrates the importance of educational leadership in the performance of our schools.  Other states have continued to improve their levels of student learning on the national assessment.  In comparison, Michigan’s performance on the NAEP – the best gauge of student learning across states -- has remained relatively stagnant.

Michigan's Legislature Needs to Slow Down and Get Charter School Legislation Right

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (September 29, 2011) – As the Michigan legislature debates new sweeping education legislation that will remake public education in Michigan -- especially in its poor neighborhoods -- the Education Trust-Midwest calls on lawmakers to put students’ learning first -- and to make sure it gets the bills’ details right to ensure high-quality school options, high standards and honest, reliable information for Michigan families about their children’s charter school performance.
Already this year, Michigan’s legislature has approved much needed changes to Michigan’s teacher-related policies, including tenure reform, changes in lay-off priorities and teacher evaluation.  “More changes are needed—stronger teachers do not alone make for better schools,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of Ed Trust-Midwest, Michigan's only state-wide education organization that works on behalf of students to close the achievement gap.  “The Legislature needs to slow down and get this right for kids’ sakes.”

The Education Trust-Midwest's Statement on President Obama's No Child Left Behind Waiver Plan

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (September 23, 2011) - Today President Barack Obama announced a plan to waive some of the federal accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), presenting an opportunity for Michigan to re-think its educational strategies.  

"Our state's leaders should seize this rare opportunity to do what's best for Michigan's students," said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, Michigan's only state-wide education organization that advocates on behalf of students.  "It will require our state leaders to come to the table quickly, and to step up to meet these worthwhile federal requirements that serve all of our children."”

New Additions to The Education Trust-Midwest Team Help Michigan Students

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (August 31, 2011) - Today the Education Trust-Midwest (Ed Trust-Midwest) is pleased to announce two new additions to our growing team.  Regina Bell, Field Director, and Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Assistant Director of Policy and Research, join the Ed Trust-Midwest with deep experience in policymaking and education, inside and outside of Michigan classrooms.

Ed Trust-Midwest Executive Director Amber Arellano shares commentary in the 43rd Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (August 19, 2011) - Every year Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll produces a report on Americans’ view of education.  This 43rd Annual report dives into the attitudes toward public schools.  This 43rd Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll contains commentary by Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest and other Americans regarding attitudes toward the public schools.

Statement on Historic Education Reforms Passed by Michigan Legislature

LANSING, MICH. (June 30, 2011) — Tonight the Michigan legislature made history by reforming antiquated teacher tenure and other laws that have been powerful barriers to ensuring all Michigan students are taught by effective teachers.  The groundbreaking laws also provide a new potential pathway for the development of more consistent and reliable evaluation of educators and improved professional development for our teachers.

“All of our kids deserve the best teachers that our state and nation can provide. We applaud lawmakers for their courage in passing these reforms despite intense pressure from adult-focused special interest groups,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, a Michigan-based education policy and advocacy organization.

Ed Trust-Midwest Comments on Gov. Snyder's Education Speech

DETROIT, MICH. (April 27, 2011) —Today, Gov. Rick Snyder moved to make students a higher priority and to ensure that all of Michigan’s classrooms are staffed by high-quality teachers.  We applaud his recognition of the importance of teachers to our students, but urge him to take further steps to ensure that his proposals are smartly implemented. Students must remain a top priority as the state pursues the governor’s ideas, such as performance bonuses and charter school expansion.

The Education Trust-Midwest has advocated rigorously for Gov. Snyder to enact dramatic teacher quality reforms.  The Snyder administration has paid attention, and is proposing revamping Michigan tenure law and teacher lay-off policies. Today, the governor proposed to award tenure based on three years of effective teacher performance.  He also pushed for teaching performance to trump seniority in school lay-off and placement decisions.

New Report: On Key State Test, Detroit Public Schools is Not Michigan's Lowest Performing School District for Some School Districts

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (January 13, 2011) – Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Detroit Public School district is not Michigan’s lowest performing district for some groups of students. In fact, a handful of other districts score tragically below the Motor City on key state tests, according to a new report from The Education Trust-Midwest.

In the report “Becoming a Leader in Education: An Agenda for Michigan,” Ed Trust-Midwest presents evidence of poor academic results statewide. It also provides a roadmap for Governor Rick Snyder and the new state legislature to reverse those trends and help Michigan make itself a national education leader.

Michigan is among the nation’s lowest performing states on national school assessments, a reality masked by the fact that the vast majority of Michigan children—about four out of every five elementary and middle schoolers—are meeting less-rigorous state standards. Higher income students as well as lower income students score substantially behind their peers in other states. Hardly just a K-12 education problem, Michigan’s beloved colleges and universities are not producing enough qualified graduates to build the knowledge-economy workforce needed to attract new employers to the state.

"Cut Scores"—Just the Beginning of Being More Honest with Michiganders

ANN ARBOR, MICH. -- (February 9, 2011) The Michigan State Board of Education voted to become more honest with Michiganders about how well their children are achieving. It was a tiny step, however, in the state's progress to ensure that all of our state's children are prepared to work and succeed in the global community.

The state board voted to raise the "cut scores" on Michigan’s state assessments—the cut-off point for student test-takers between proficiency and lack of proficiency. As a result, data will line up more honestly with scoring systems on national assessments and Michigan parents are less likely to have a false sense of confidence about their schools' performance.

Statement by Amber Arellano, Executive Director, Ed Trust–Midwest, on Today’s Release of State Results From the National Assessment of Educational Progress Science Exam

ANN ARBOR, MI (January 25, 2011) -- Today’s release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) forfourth-grade  and  eighth-grade science shows Michigan lagging behind leading states in science achievement.  The performance of our African-American students is particularly disturbing, and demonstrates how critical it is for state leaders to take action on this front.

Black fourth-graders in Michigan scored third from the bottom of all participating states, above only Mississippi and Arkansas. Sixty-six percent of our African-American fourth-graders didn’t even make it to basic levels of science knowledge on the NAEP examinations, considered the “gold standard” in testing. In eighth grade, our black students tied for seventh from the bottom from all participating states.

An Open Letter to Governor Rick Snyder

Dear Governor Snyder:

Congratulations on your new role as the leader of the truly Great Lakes State. Like you, we share a deep love of Michigan. We care about its people. Like you, this is our home. And like you, we believe Michigan is ground zero for America’s transformation from a once-grand industrial past to a global knowledge economy. This change is one of the most profound shifts in history, particularly for states such as Michigan, which is making this challenging transition relatively later than many other states and countries.

Ed Trust-Midwest Statement on Detroit’s NAEP Science Results

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (February 24, 2011) – “Detroit’s devastating results on the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress underscore the importance of thoughtful policymaking as state and city leaders seek to address the Detroit Public Schools’ urgent financial crisis. Any pathway forward must make student achievement a top priority and should be focused on proven, researched-based strategies for improving student learning. 

“But Detroit isn’t alone. Many Michigan districts face similar fiscal and academic challenges. We need state leadership to find sustainable, comprehensive plans for the future to help all of our young people – particularly low-income students and students of color – achieve at high levels.”

National education reform organization comes to Michigan, makes students top priority

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (December 17, 2010) – With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Skillman Foundation, The Education Trust-Midwest – a new statewide education policy and advocacy organization – launches this month, dedicated to promoting high academic achievement and opportunity for all Michigan students, particularly those who are often underserved: low-income students and students of color.

Ed Trust-Midwest will do that by:

  • Serving as an independent source of reliable, honest information about our schools and a watchdog by conducting research and analyzing data the help build broader understanding of achievement and opportunity gaps and what it will take to close them.
  • Working alongside educators, parents, students, policymakers, and civic and business leaders to provide expertise and practical assistance in their efforts to transform schools and colleges into institutions that serve all students well.
  • Participating in national and state policy debates, bringing lessons learned from on-the-ground work and unflinching data analyses to improve policies that help all students and schools reach high levels of achievement.