Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, quoted in the Detroit News, "Michigan test scores lag nationally despite increase"

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Detroit News, 4/10

Michigan test scores lag nationally despite increase

By Jennifer Chambers

Michigan improved its national rankings in all four areas of last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, yet its scores remained below national averages for the rigorous exam that is given every two years to a sample of students in each state. Michigan students made marginal gains on the benchmark test from 2015 to 2017 in three of out of four subject areas after seeing test scores decline across the board from 2013 to 2015. Michigan students made small gains in fourth-grade reading and in eighth-grade reading and math, but those scores remain below the national average, according to the latest results from the Nation’s Report Card released Tuesday. But over the long term, Michigan has been on a slow decline compared with other states where students are realizing higher academic achievements, experts said. The state’s average scale scores haven’t changed significantly in the last two years, said Sarah Lenhoff, an assistant professor in educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University’s College of Education. Although other states have seen scores decline, “I don’t think that means we are improving. It could mean other states are not doing well either,” Lenhoff said. “When we look at long-term trends Michigan’s rank has fallen pretty sharply compared to the rest of the country. Other states have been improving while Michigan has not.” Lenhoff said students in Detroit took the assessment in early 2017, just as the newly elected Board of Education took office and several months after the district’s new superintendent Nikolai Vitti took office in May 2017, replacing a state-appointed emergency manager. “Detroit is in a really bad spot compared to the rest of the country. Not just last but significant behind the large city average,” she said. Education experts equate 10 points on the NAEP with a year of learning, Lenoff said. Based on Detroit’s scores, it is years behind in learning compared to other large cities that took the test. One bright spot for Detroit: Vitti’s former district in Duval County, Florida, which serves a large number of low-income students like Detroit, made significant gains on the test, she said. “If the superintendent has any influence, that’s not a bad sign,” Lenhoff said.