The facts reveal a complicated story about education reform on the ground in Michigan that bolsters the case both of DeVos’ boosters and her critics.
Michigan has aggressively moved to expand school choice and other reform efforts for more than two decades, but has struggled at times to implement effective oversight of these reforms — especially in Detroit, the nation’s lowest performing, large, urban district.
Michigan does not tell us everything about what DeVos might do or not do as Secretary of Education, but it offers some clues.
Here are five misconceptions we’ve fact-checked about Michigan education during the DeVos debate, from both supporters and opponents of the Secretary of Education nominee:
First claim: Increases in Michigan student achievement are leading to greater college and career readiness among the state’s high school graduates.
The facts: Schools in Michigan have not been performing well in recent years — the state generally ranks in the bottom third in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and new state assessments show wide achievement gaps across grade levels, especially for low-income students and students of color. While graduation rates have gone up, they still fall below the national average, and when 11th grade students in Michigan took the SAT last year, only 35 percent hit the “college ready” benchmark.
Second claim: Reports that Michigan lacks school accountability are “false news.”
The fact: While Michigan has various accountability mechanisms for schools, those systems have not been very effective, and were under scrutiny even before DeVos’s nomination.
Responsibility for education in Michigan is shared between the State Board of Education, the state superintendent, the governor, and over 40 charter school authorizers, making it tough to know for sure who is responsible for what. Only in 2014 (after 20 years of charter schools) did the state Department of Education start closely overseeing charter school authorizers’ effectiveness. School accountability systems are being revised at the state and local level in Michigan — the state is putting together a new statewide plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and a recently passed law mandates an A-F grading system for all schools in Detroit, implemented by the governor’s School Reform Office. It will take a few more years to know whether these new systems will yield any Five misconceptions about Michigan education and Betsy DeVos - The Hechinger Report: