• Michigan deserves credit for attempting to measure a number of factors important to the state’s citizens.


  • Michigan’s plan is notable for the inclusion of science and social studies assessments in the accountability system and an indicator that measures student time with fine arts, music, PE, and access to library specialists.


  • The state has also provided a compelling mock-up of a sample school report card.




  • Michigan’s plan is incomplete and provides insufficient details to adequately review.


  • It presents three potential accountability systems that it’s considering, but it hasn’t finalized its choice, and all three systems are underdeveloped.


  • As presented, Michigan’s plan is missing key elements that are required in order for the state to receive federal education funding.


Click through the tabs on the left to see how Michigan scored in each category.



Michigan has set an ambitious long-term strategy.


It aims to be a top 10 education state in 10 years. However, the state does not explain how it will determine the other states among the top 10. The state commits to using data to drive resources and provide a focus for continuous improvement. It prioritizes reducing the impact of high-risk factors, and it seeks to provide a quality education to all students. Including these priorities as a part of the state’s long-term goals is appropriate.


However, Michigan’s specific interim targets may not be aligned to this long-term vision.


It sets a goal of having 75 percent of schools and 75 percent of student subgroups reaching the 75th percentile rate in English, math, science, and social studies by the year 2024-25. Since the state does not include any data on past progress, there is no context to assess how these goals were established and whether they are ambitious and achievable.


Michigan’s 10-year strategy is an appropriate timeline.


However, there is some question around the rigor and ambitiousness of this goal. There is no direct link between the state’s 75-75-75 goal for all children and its stated goal of being among the top 10 states. Based on Michigan’s current data, less than half of students will be proficient in math in seven years. Furthermore, the plan does not break out its goals by students with disabilities, English learners, or any other subgroups, which ESSA requires.


In terms of making a next draft stronger, Michigan may consider better defining what top 10 means and how the state will improve all educational opportunities to reach this goal.



The rigor of Michigan’s standards and assessments is unclear.


Michigan’s plan is based on strong standards, as adopted by the state, though it does not provide much information about the alignment of its new assessments with the state’s standards and college and career readiness.


The state should be commended for proposing to include science and social studies as part of its assessment portfolio.


Michigan does not provide a state assessment in mathematics in Arabic.


While the second most common language in the state after English is Arabic, the state instead intends to provide on-the-spot Arabic translations for students taking the mathematics assessment. It is unclear if this is an effective strategy or if it could produce variation in assessment delivery.


Michigan may consider continuing to engage stakeholders as the state considers adoption/improvement of future assessments. Lastly, Michigan should strengthen its plan by ensuring that it has a process in place to meet the 1 percent cap on alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.



Michigan’s indicators show promise — but lack detail.


Michigan’s indicators have promise and show innovation, but lack clarity around the reasons for selection, research basis, and alignment to targets and goals — whether interim, long term, or systemic. The state has outlined the following indicators: academic achievement (in all four subjects), academic growth (in all four subjects), English-learner progress, graduation rate (four-, five-, and six-year cohort rates), and a final composite indicator made up of chronic absenteeism, time spent in fine arts, music, physical education, and access to library specialist, 11th– and 12th-grade advanced coursework, and high school postsecondary enrollment rates. Michigan’s idea to include science and social studies is positive and will help balance out concerns about curriculum narrowing.


But, Michigan provides little information in its description of its indicators, and no substantive detail about how these indicators are valid, reliable, backed by research, increase student learning, relate to postsecondary outcomes, or meaningfully differentiate schools.


Michigan’s postsecondary enrollment indicator is promising — but again, lacks detail.


The state’s proposed weighting of the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates is a potentially useful concept. However, its current structure assigns a 50 percent weight to extended-year graduation rates, and the state could strengthen its plan by emphasizing the four-year graduation rate with a more significant weight.



Michigan’s plan proposes three potential accountability systems.


The state proposes (1) an A-F rating system that combines measures into one overall rating for each school, (2) an A-F rating system that reports component grades of each of six measures, but does not compile those into one overall grade; or (3) a “dashboard” that merely reports raw data, but does not attempt to rate schools on any of the components or overall. Michigan states that all three of these options would include data on growth and proficiency, but only the first option would potentially meet ESSA’s requirements that states use their academic indicators to identify schools in need of additional support.


Still, because Michigan has not settled on which of the three options it plans to pursue, it remains unclear if it would create sufficient incentives for schools to care about both proficiency and growth.



All three of Michigan’s proposed accountability systems would include subgroup data  but not all would meet ESSA’s requirements.


The state specifies that, under the first option which combines measures into one overall rating for each school, any valid subgroup meeting the state’s minimum group size of 30 students would be weighted equally as the all-students group. Without additional detail, it’s difficult to assess whether this would support the educational needs of all students.



Michigan’s plan does not provide enough information about any of its proposed accountability systems to understand how it will identify schools.


The state does offer a compelling mock-up of a sample school report card, but ESSA requires states to have their accountability plans in place for the 2017-18 school year, and Michigan’s statements make it seem unlikely it will be able to do so.



There are significant holes in how Michigan’s interventions fit together for schools needing support.


The plan lacks guidance on the use of evidence-based interventions and support, and there is no evidence provided demonstrating that state-designed efforts have had success in the past. The state does not involve itself directly in helping to improve those schools that are identified for comprehensive and targeted support (and, per above, the state has not identified how those schools would be identified).


Finally, the state provides no explanation for how it will use its 7 percent of federal funds dedicated for school-improvement activities. 

Exiting Improvement Status


Michigan has not provided much of a methodology for identifying schools in need of comprehensive or targeted support.


The plan merely states “the school no longer is identified by the system…in no more than four years.” That would be long enough to show progress, especially for targeted support schools, but the state has not provided a definition for how much progress would be required.

Continuous Improvement


Michigan’s work appears to be far from finished.


Michigan conducted extensive outreach on its ESSA plan, but the state has not settled on significant parts of its accountability system. The state should consider how it plans to complete that process through ongoing stakeholder engagement as it makes decisions on which indicators to include, how to combine those indicators, and the actions that must follow in low-performing schools.

Learn more about why these categories matter: