How Minnesota and Michigan students compare on the NAEP

Michigan vs Minnesota

Michigan and Minnesota spend roughly the same amount per pupil, and yet the performance of Minnesota students on national tests is far superior to that of Michigan students, including low-income students. Proponents of the Minnesota system note that the North Star state budgets its money differently. Below, how students in the two states stack up on the NAEP, often called the nation’s report card.

4th grade math

8th grade math

All studentsAll students
Poor* studentsPoor students
Not poorNot poor
Black studentsBlack students
White studentsWhite students

4th grade reading

8th grade reading

All studentsAll students
Poor* studentsPoor students
Not poorNot poor
Black studentsBlack students
White studentsWhite students

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress.

* Note: Students identified as poor are those eligible for a free or reduced lunch. Those identified as “not poor” are all other students.

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Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:42am
Again - early childhood education makes a huge difference plus the quality of teacher preparation programs AND quality of the child care professional training programs. We have the data from years of research - - - why do we allow politicians to hold the purse strings so tightly where investments really matter?
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:57pm
Sally, your suggestion of more money may be good, but this article is trying to point out that with the same amount of money they are doing something better.
Lisa Marckini-Polk
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:57am
This is interesting. It would be possible to interpret the magnitude of the differences if you would include information on the standard deviation of the test scores and the range of possible scores. It is easy to make a small difference look big by adjusting the axis start and end points. I am not saying that is what happened here, but people do it, and this presentation lacks context on what constitutes a statistically and substantively meaningful difference. Thank you.
Mike Wilkinson
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:18am
Lisa, Yes, the gaps can be exaggerated by this method. What we've seen for Michigan, however, is a huge drop in its ranking when adjusting for statistical significance.For instance, in fourth grade math in 2003, only 11 states were statistically better than Michigan. Now it's 35. And it's not just poor or black kids: Only six states' white students were ahead of Michigan's in 2003; in 2013 it was 34 in fourth grade math. And in 8th grade math, the state's higher achievers were bested by only eight other states; in 2013 29 other states registered better scores at a statistically significant level.
Ken McFarlane
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:16pm
Let's look at some other numbers for an explanation, in this case, child poverty rates in Michigan and Minnesota. Michigan: 25% of children live in poverty. That's 554,000 children. Minnesota: 15% of children live in poverty, That's 184,000 children. to stop funneling education dollars to corporations while demonizing teachers and to begin attacking poverty.
Mike Wilkinson
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:21pm
Ken, It's true Minnesota has fewer poor kids. What's interesting is those who are poor are doing better in the classroom than those who are poor in Michigan. Even though it has lower poverty rates, the state has found a way to reach those living in poverty better than Michigan has.
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 1:19pm
Not to question the big picture, but why the data "anomaly" for poor Minnesota kids in 2007? I don't think it matters enough to dig for answers, but it does raise questions about the validity of the poor/not poor classification, which is based on school lunches.
Mike Wilkinson
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 1:28pm
I have noticed this elsewhere as well, Fred. The NAEP data is a survey -- a very good one -- of hundreds of kids from across each state. Those scores could reflect a sample from a particularly bad school or school district. But you raise a good point.
Ken McFarlane
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 2:13pm
Why is the graph used with this article 4th grade White students' reading scores?
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:57pm
Michigan just seems to have a negative vibe about life in general, you hear it all the time, I trace it to the economic collapse of the auto industry starting in the 1980s, extreme partisan politics etc. The negativity I believe effects the classroom as well in various ways.
John Q. Public
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:39pm
Elections in Michigan always remind me of Gen. Buford's speech before the Battle of Gettysburg: "The way one feels before an ill-considered attack: KNOWING it will fail, but you CANNOT stop it. You must even take part--help it fail!"
Sat, 09/20/2014 - 12:10am
***, I trace it to the economic and political success of the UAW in the 1960s.
Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:36pm
I grow tired of the funding argument from the educational community. Isn't a $7,200+ foundation allowance enough to adequately educate a child? These unsustainable pension obligations are decimating districts even with the one time yearly monies allocated by the State. What corporate entity is obligated to pay 35% of an employees annual wage toward pension support? The exhorbitant insurance costs previously extorted by Messa have been brought under some control by legislation, but the existing pension reform has got to go farther.
Jonathan Ramlow
Wed, 09/17/2014 - 6:07pm
Hi Chez, Just out of curiosity I'd like to ask you if you have ever taught elementary school classes, either full-time or as a sub? If not, then I submit that you are not in an advantageous position to evaluate teachers' compensation issues. I began a teacher certification program some years ago, intending to teach science classes in a middle school or high school. The opportunities I had to manage an actual middle school class scared the daylights out of me, and I came to the conclusion that I didn't/don't have what it takes to teach well and manage a class consisting of students with a wide variety of interests and abilities. I wanted to emulate this class' regular teacher, but I concluded that her heart rate and blood pressure barely varied over the course of an hour. Her experience as a regular teacher contributed to that, but my conclusion is that teachers are like tennis players: some stay cool and calm no matter how things are going, some generally do well despite having occasional stressed-out moments, and some have a hard time starting out but will master some or most of what they need to know and do to stay in the game. Moreover, teaching, like athletics, wears on you over time, while teachers are expected to continuously improve their skills and performance (that includes tenured instructors so far as I know). In the US as whole, median annual income for secondary school teachers is about $47K, whereas the figure for computer programmers is about $65K. I'm sure there are some programmers who enjoy working in a chaotic, caffeine-charged environment, but I doubt they would do very well in a typical hormone-charged middle school classroom or first-period high school classroom with numbers of sleep-deprived students who have trouble staying awake, alert, and able to give full attention to the subject or topic at hand. Added to all the above are the expenses many teachers incur purchasing ordinary classroom materials or working towards a master's degree in their area of expertise. Suggesting that teachers are somehow unworthy of their pension benefits strikes me as mean and miserly. My suggestion would be that many other "corporate entities" should provide similar retirement benefits to their hard-working employees who also need to upgrade their skills and performance during their careers. It's all a question of what we value: teachers and registered nurses are compensated at levels below that of, say, public relations managers. Often enough the latter are being paid to spin or otherwise obfuscate the issues they deal with, whereas teachers and nurses are paid less but expected to stick to the facts and the truth. Teachers' retirement benefits can hardly be compared to the "golden parachutes" too often provided to effective and ineffective management employees. Teachers vary in their skills and performance, certainly, but in what other professions is this not the case? Let the dedicated pension plan reformers look closely at these other professions instead of singling out teaching.
Wed, 09/17/2014 - 8:38pm
The other professions you reference are not supported with tax payer dollars. The system is unsustainable and will collapse if not overhauled even further. It's not if but when. Do teachers "deserve" pensions? Of course they do. The question is will they be there for them under the status quo? Their pension plight is no different than any municipality or government worker. The idea that the taxpayers should continually prop them up has zero support outside of the bargaining unit. Most "public relations managers" are responsible for their own pensions through 401K contributions, minimally subsidized by employer matches of 3-4%. They are not guaranteed, but theoretically always at risk to market volatility. The crushing burden that school districts operate under is sucking dollars from classroom instruction that is emperiling student achievement. The State constitution guarantees these pensions at the expense of classroom needs. Private sector pensions are not guaranteed, ask the millions of retirees who have seen their hard earned retirements dissolved or dumped on the PBGC with minimal return if any. Why are GM and Ford offloading their pension obligations for salaried employees ( and soon to be hourly ) to entities like Prudential? They simply can't afford to pay them any more. They are remnants from a bygone era that no longer exists. Public school pensions will soon no longer be sacrosanct as the outcry of lost education funding will martyr their existence. It's inevitable. Big industry pensions ( GM, Ford, etc.. ) are severely reduced once the recipient becomes SS eligible. Public school employees take no such hit, they get their full earned complement of both. A Cadillac benefit destined to be realigned. No school system can adequately provide a world class education having to meet the unsustainable demands of MPSERS.
Fri, 09/19/2014 - 7:12pm
Jonathan, By your standard it would seem that everyone that does something you feel uncomfortable doing deserves a high pay. I have to admit it see it differently. It is about supply and demand and the value delivered. There seems to be a high supply (the number of teachers graduating each years) and a low demand (not that many teachers being replaced), in that scenario it would appear the place would lower the price/compensation. As for the value it appears that the marketplace of education is not so sure that the schools are providing the expected value indicating a depressed price/salaries. As for the temperment and how it matches the work environment, that isn't a criteria the marketplace really cares about. The marketplace is driven by precieved results and not the means to those results.
Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:35am
It is disappointing that there is no interest for looking at education from the bottom up (the student's perspective). Even in this discussion it is about the top down approach (the overview, money, tests, etc.) It doesn't seem that anyone wonders why kids in the same classroom will have different performances relative to their innate abilities? It seems no one has considering asking the kids why they do what they are doing, why the like or don't like to learn, why they read, why they do math, why they do or don't do homework? Think back to your school days and asked why kids in the same classroom had different degrees of success? My experience was the socio-economic situation of their family, the funding of the schools, the class size, the intellectual ability, and other external factors. As I recall it was the child and the choices they made and how they looked at learning.