Smartest kids graphic: How Michigan and Tennessee compare on NAEP

Michigan vs Tennessee

Michigan and Tennessee are on vastly different trajectories. A series of reforms has produced huge gains for the previously struggling Volunteer State, while scores for Michigan students have remained relatively flat. Tennessee has zoomed past Michigan in the 4th-grade NAEP exam, and is neck-and-neck in 8th-grade results.


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: Poor are those students eligible for a free or reduced lunch.

Data compiled by Mike Wilkinson

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Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:58am
Must be the teachers, yup here we go again, what kind of punishment will the legislature come up with this time?
Chuck Fellows
Tue, 09/09/2014 - 2:34pm
One data point does not indicate anything. The problem with this type of reporting is extreme myopia and a total misunderstanding of data. This one point of data totally ignores context and contains absolutely no actionable information that will provide an opportunity to improve anything. At best it is an abberation along a meaningless plot line.
Wayne O'Brien
Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:47pm
If improvement is actually the goal, remember that scholars who study high achieving countries describe how these countries maintain an educational systems aproach: 1. Teachers are pre-selected (before teacher training begins) to be among the highest achievers, academically, and to be potentially highly effective at the art, craft and science of teaching. How to teach is as important as what to teach. And the training programs vigorously entail practicing the teaching of actual lessons to students in educational settings. 2. An agreed upon core of knowledge is the same target for everyone in the high achieving systems even though curriculum varies with locality -- targeted core knowledge for every student does not vary. 3. Similar to high performing sports teams whose members daily study and practice the best form and the best plays and the best techniques for winning, teachers spend about half their working day teaching and the other half of their time preparing to teach, developing their teaching skills by observing other teachers, studying what the best teachers do and then emulating those who are best at actually teaching. Their skills of teaching are practiced, honed and critiqued regularly.....improvement is expected during the entire teaching career. The best performing systems value these teaching skills highly and provide for their ongoing enhancement. The highest educational achievers in the world make certain that these three components are an integral part of their educational systems because they fully grasp the concept that the quality of any country's education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.
Carol Waltman
Sun, 09/14/2014 - 9:05am
Very well put, and very true. The system we use to educate and support teachers is a big part of the problem. Simply paying more is no cure, although better pay coupled with better teacher education, support and assessment is essential. Others are doing this... we need to, also.
Sun, 11/02/2014 - 3:59pm
What do the Parents Have in the equation,. I would say a lot? I hear from teachers that come to my church that they can not change the outcomes of poor kids if the parents of those kids do not care. There are problems of spending in the wrong places, not teaching to learn as opposed to the test, and not cultivating good teachers and also not paying for these teachers to stay. The Republicans and the Democrats both do things badly, but the parents need to care. Spend less on sports and more on the Three R's. James T.