In 2015, The Education Trust-Midwest launched the Michigan Achieves campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state by 2030. Each year, we report on how Michigan is making progress toward that top ten goal based on both student outcome performance metrics and opportunity to learn metrics that signal the  conditions that Michigan is creating that help support — or stagnate — teaching and learning in Michigan public schools.

January 2021

The Urgency of Now: Michigan’s Educational Recovery

As Michigan and the nation continue to grapple with the ongoing, devastating impacts of COVID-19, a new poll finds that 85% of Michigan parents polled say the state’s leaders should have a plan to address pandemic learning loss — and make sure all students catch up to their current grade level.

The poll underscores the critical need to invest in public education and prioritize underserved students, particularly students of color, low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities, especially to ensure that the most underserved students do not face incalculable harm to their future life outcomes.

The Education Trust-Midwest’s 2021 State of Michigan Education Report, The Urgency of Now: Michigan’s Educational Recovery, sheds light on Michigan’s troubling educational inequities, especially as parents of color are more likely to indicate their child is participating in full-time remote learning.

Key recommendations include:

  • Fair investment
  • Honest Information, Transparency and Public Reporting
  • Extended and Expanded Learning Time
  • Quality Virtual Instruction and Access
  • Inclusivity and Socioemotional Supports
  • Transitions to Postsecondary Opportunities

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Parent Poll

Photo: Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.
July 2020

The Time is Now: COVID-19 and Fair Funding

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan families and educators are worried about their students’ unfinished learning, while state- and district-level leaders face unprecedented decisions to safely prepare for the fall and address the potentially devastating impact of the public health and economic crises on education.

Tragically, Michigan is already among the worst states in the country for equitable funding.

For the future prosperity of Michigan and the success of our students, we must commit to becoming a more equitable education state, rather than worsening the gaps between Michigan’s rich and poor districts – and further limiting opportunities for our most vulnerable children.

In this brief, we lay out how Michigan can do that in three key ways:

  • Prioritize investment in public education over other areas of the budget, including by reversing decisions to divert money from the School Aid Fund.
  • Protect funding for vulnerable students, including by ensuring any state budget cuts, if necessary, are done fairly and equitably.
  • Ensure transparency and accountability by making a real commitment to have dollars reach the children for whom they are intended.


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Technical Appendix

June 2020

A Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education

As the U.S. rightfully confronts longstanding inequality and racial injustice, Michiganders have a historic opportunity to address decades-long underinvestment in education and opportunity gaps disproportionately impacting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students in rural communities.

A Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education offers a pragmatic, solutions-based educational recovery agenda for COVID-19. With this educational recovery is call to action for a ‘new normal’ that equitably invests in all communities and recognizes every child’s innate capacity to learn at high levels, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak or their zip code.

Key recommendations include:

  • Fair investment
  • Honest Information, Transparency and Public Reporting
  • Extended Learning Time
  • Quality Virtual Instruction and Access
  • Inclusivity and Socioemotional Supports
  • Transitions to Postsecondary Opportunities

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January 2020

Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis and Opportunity

Michigan is now in the bottom five states nationwide for equitable school funding, and should take immediate steps to invest much more in students who have historically been underserved and left behind.

Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis and Opportunity shows how the state’s K-12 education funding system is neither adequate nor equitable – with the hardest burden falling on students with special needs, from low-income families, new English speakers and students in isolated rural schools.

Not only is an investment in our children the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do.

May 2019

Opportunity for All

This is a moment of sobering reality in Michigan.

It has taken decades for Michigan’s education system to decline to where it stands today, ranked near the bottom in so many important measures for student achievement. And it’s clear that we will not transform into a top ten education state overnight.

But this is also a moment of great opportunity for Michigan. In the last few months and years, we have seen a growing commitment among leaders across the state to embrace a new vision for public education in Michigan. Our new governor has made enhancing public education one of her top priorities; legislative leaders have indicated their willingness to change our state’s trajectory; and business, civic and philanthropic organizations have given strong support to the measures we’ll need to take to become a top ten state for education.

We know what we need to do to begin making steps towards improvement.

Leading states across the country have shown us the way. By adopting data-driven, evidence-based practices, by keeping a clear focus on equity, and by mobilizing the support of a diverse set of stakeholders, Michigan can improve educational opportunities for all of Michigan’s students regardless of their backgrounds.

This is the right moment for all Michiganders to come together, to ensure we make the most of this opportunity to do right by all Michigan students. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

May 2018

A Five-Point Plan to Make Michigan a Top Ten Education State


As explored through a series of reports by the Education Trust-Midwest, student achievement in Michigan has remained relatively flat while many states have surged
ahead. Michigan students are just as bright and capable as their peers across the country and each deserves a quality education that not only prepares them to graduate from high school, but also to succeed after graduation.

Our educational challenges did not pop up overnight, and will take time to overcome. By recognizing the challenges and focusing on the use of fair and reliable data, sound research, and adequate and equitable support for educators, we can begin to address our public education crisis and improve outcomes for students.

March 2018

Top Ten for Education: Not By Chance


Michigan is at a critical moment in time — a historic moment where our citizens and leaders must choose whether we will take advantage of new opportunities to become a top ten education state — or face a continued and dramatic educational decline. Today, national data reveal that Michigan’s public education system is among the poorest performing in the country, a problem we can ill afford to ignore.

After almost two years of research, including conversations with educators working at the classroom, school, district, intermediate school district and state level, our team found a profound need for far more robust implementation and improvement systems, guided by sustained and visionary leadership. Indeed, the lack of coherent systems and accountability for consistent improvement are holding back third-grade literacy efforts and squandering millions of dollars. As it stands, the only real accountability for Michigan’s third-grade reading investment exists for the state’s students: under the state’s 2016 policy, students are at-risk for retention in third grade if they are unable to meet grade-level reading expectations.

In this report we dig deeply into the experience of leading education states with a focus on the “how”: how did these states dramatically raise their third-grade reading levels in relatively short periods of time? Over the last two years, our team of researchers visited and talked with more than 50 leaders in these states, mined national and state data, and examined the approaches they used to lift learning for all of their children.

May 2016

Michigan’s Talent Crisis: The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan’s Broken Public Education System

Michigan is at great crossroads – a historic moment when our citizens and leaders must choose whether we will take advantage of major new opportunities to become a top state economically and educationally once again – or face a continued and dramatic decline that will relegate the state and its citizens to global backwater status. The path we take during the next five years will be critical in determining which destination we reach.

May 2015

Michigan Achieves: Becoming a Top Ten Education State

Our 2015 State of Michigan Education Report, Michigan Achieves: Becoming a Top Ten Education State, lays out a comprehensive plan to lift Michigan up from the bottom and into one of our nation’s top ten education states by 2030.

We do this by targeting investment in key areas that research shows have the best results. Leading education states have shown that a focus on teaching quality, higher standards and school accountability can truly put us on the path to success.