2018 report: Michigan third-graders are now the ‘lowest-performing students in the U.S.’


The Business Journal is reporting on no fewer than three significant announcements from Gov. Rick Snyder, from Business Leaders for Michigan and an analysis by The Right Place Inc. regarding its failed proposal vying for the Amazon HQ2 project. Each has for a decade advocated for improvements in Michigan’s educational attainment — and each now again underscores this immense failure as the death knell for Michigan business and reason for renewed emphasis. And while touting currently “strong economic conditions,” each has acknowledged — as has the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce — this atrocious deficit is the tip of an iceberg that is now acknowledged as a certainty in the crumbling of the foundation of Michigan’s economy.

A decade of empty rhetoric and failed “initiatives” of no consequence have fostered failure of Michigan children and, ultimately, the business owners who need them.

In 2017, fourth-grade reading proficiency testing gave Michigan a national rank of 46. Scores in West Michigan were lower than those in east Michigan. But it’s worse now than in 2017. The just-released 2018 State of Michigan Education Report by Education Trust-Midwest shows Michigan third-graders are now the “lowest-performing students in the U.S. among peers based on the state’s assessment.”

This mind-boggling travesty means that in 10 years, today’s third-graders unlikely are to be ready for college — or employment. It is a guarantee business owners will not have a capable or skillful workforce. It is a guarantee Michigan will once again be an “outbound state” for both residents and places of business.

Grand Rapids and Michigan’s scores are woefully at the bottom of comparisons with all states. Business Leaders for Michigan in early spring 2017 noted in its study:

  • Per capita income edged up only slightly, ranking Michigan as No. 31 among all states. Per capita GDP is 35th.

  • The number of critical degrees and certificates declined, giving Michigan a rank of 28th.

  • Fourth-grade reading proficiency continues to decline, now ranking Michigan at 46th.

  • Overall educational attainment measured Michigan at 29th. The Grand Rapids region continues to lag other regions of the state in the percentage of residents with an associate degree or higher, falling behind the Lansing region, Ann Arbor region and Detroit. In fact, the West Michigan region ties with every region from Berrien County to northern Michigan: the entire western part of the state.

Business Leaders for Michigan noted in its March report, “inconsistencies in policy and a tendency to look for simple solutions” is at the root of continued declines.

Politicizing so important an issue has been an epic failure, and the critical firing line must be pointed at the legislators who have once again brought this state to its knees.

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