9 trends that helped define Michigan education in the 2010s – MLive.com

Posted: January 2, 2020 at 7:41 am

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Its been a tumultuous decade for Michigans K-12 education system.

From controversy over the Common Core standards, to funding issues, to expansion of charter schools and preschool programs, K-12 education has seen a number of changes.

Below are nine trends that helped define the past 10 years.

1. K-12 enrollment is falling.

In 2018-19, Michigans public schools had 1.45 million enrolled in grades K-12 compared to 1.58 million in 2009-10, a 8% drop and a continuation of a trend that began in fall 2003.

As a result of the states falling birth rate, Michigans public school enrollment hasnt been this low since the 1950s, according to U.S. Census data.

In 1950, Michigan had 1.3 million residents age 5 to 17 enrolled in school. By 1960, the Baby Boom pushed public-school enrollment to 1.6 million. Michigans public-school enrollment peaked at 2,182,885 in fall 1971.

Between 1975 to 2000, Michigan roughly averaged about 135,000 births a year. That meant the public school population was fairly stable into the early 2000s. When the number of births began to drop in 2001, school enrollment numbers soon followed. By 2018, the states K-12 enrollment had dropped 16% in 15 years.

And the end to that downturn is nowhere in sight. Since 2014, when this years kindergartners were born, the number of Michigan births has dropped another 4%, which means at least four more years of progressively smaller kindergartner classes coming in as larger cohorts of high schoolers graduate out.

2. Charter school enrollment is increasing.

Michigan opened its first charter schools in fall 1994, but there was a cap on the number for years. That changed in 2011, when then-Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill lifting the cap, allowing for charter-school expansion.

In 2010-11, Michigan had 111,344 students in about 255 charter schools, about 8% of the public school population. In 2018-19, charter schools had 147,239 in 370 schools, about 10% of total public-school enrollment.

Charters remain controversial: Supporters say they provide much-needed options in public education. They say charters can be more innovative since their teachers arent unionized, and charters are uniquely positioned to offer specialized curriculums and serve niche populations.

Detractors say charter expansion doesnt make fiscal sense at a time when a declining birth rate means more schools are competing for fewer students every year.

Below is an interactive map that shows where charter students are enrolled, based on the county where their charter school is located. Michigan has 38 counties with no charter schools; those counties are shaded in gray.

Cyber schools can distort the number in northern Michigan; for instance, online programs in Manistee and Wexford counties enroll students from across the state.

Incidentally, if you click on a county, you compare charter enrollment in 2009-10 compared to 2018-19.

3. More children are in preschool.

Snyder also put more money into Michigans Great Start preschool program, doubling the number of slots available.

The Great Start Readiness Program provides free preschool to 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. A family of four qualifies for the program if their income is under $78,000 a year.

In 2010-11, the state provided funding for about 30,000 half-day pre-K students. In 2019-20, it was about 64,000 half-day or 32,000 full-day slots.

4. Michigans high school graduation rate has improved amid stiffer high school graduation requirements.

The states high school graduation rate steadily improved over the decade: About 81% of those scheduled to graduate in 2018 graduated on time compared to 76% in 2010.

What makes that especially impressive: The trend occurred as Michigan implemented much stiffer high school graduation requirements.

For decades, Michigan school districts could largely set their own requirements for graduation. That changed with the Class of 2011, the first group that graduated under the Michigan Merit Curriculum, which standardized high school graduation requirements across the state.

Michigan students now must take four years each of math and English language arts, three years each of science and social studies, two years of a foreign language, and a year of physical education or health.

5. Whiplash over curriculum and testing changes.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum hasnt been the only the change imposed on Michigans K-12 educators over the past decade.

The state adopted Common Core standards in 2010, only to see years of controversy over that change. There also was the switch from the MEAP, or the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, to the online M-STEP, as the states standardized test for grades 3-8. The change from using the ACT to the SAT to assess high school juniors.

Yet another big reform is being implemented in fall 2020: This years third-graders will not transition to the fourth grade with some exemptions if they read a grade level behind on the states English language arts (ELA) assessment.

The state estimates are that more than 5,000 third graders statewide or 5 percent could be subject to retention.

6. The good news: Academic outcomes seen to be improving.

For all the hand-wringing about academic outcomes, they have improved over the past decade.

As previously mentioned, the percentage of students graduating high school within four years has increased from 76% for the Class of 2010 to 81% for the Class of 2018.

Also up: The percentage of high school juniors testing as fully college ready has increased from 16% for the Class of 2011, which took the ACT in spring 2010, to 34% for the Class of 2020, which took the SAT in spring 2019.

Meanwhile, Michigan fourth- and eighth-graders are scoring slightly higher on the National Assessment of Academic Progress, which is administered every two years to a representative sampling of students. The chart below compares the scores for the 2009 NAEP to the 2017 test.

Michigan's scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests

7. Controversy over K-12 school financing.

Under a Republican governor and Legislature for most of the decade, K-12 educators have been vocal about their concerns that K-12 funding has lagged inflation while Republicans has pushed spending concerns such as the cost of health-care and retirement.

In 2010-11, the states minimum foundation grant was $7,146 per student compared to $7,811 in 2018-19, a 9.3% increase during a time span when the inflation rate was 16%. The minimum grant for this year increased to $8,111, the biggest dollar increase since 2001.

Including all funding sources, Michigans public schools spent $10,002 per student on operations in 2018-19, up 8% from $9,261 per student in 2010-11.

As funding has lagged inflation, schools have moved more non-instructional staff to third-party contractors, required staff to pay more for health care and retirement, and salaries have stagnated.

In 2010-11, the average salary for a Michigan teacher was $61,530. In 2017-18, the most recent number available, it was $61,908.

8. Teacher shortage has become a problem.

With stagnating salaries, rollbacks in benefits and more pressure to improve academic outcomes, long-time teachers are leaving the profession and fewer people are going into teaching, creating shortages in some areas.

Six out of 10 Michigan school districts started this school year without enough full-time teachers to fill their classrooms, according to a survey of Michigan school superintendents conducted by the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators.

The survey, conducted the second week of September, found 518 classrooms in 178 school districts that did not have a full-time, certified teacher.

One reason: As Baby Boomers retire from teaching, there are fewer people to replace them. Enrollment in teacher prep programs at Michigan universities dropped 66 percent over seven years between 2009 and 2016, according to a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

The CRC report notes that teacher turnover those leaving the field permanently, or just for better opportunities in a different district is higher in Michigan than the rest of the country.

The share of the workforce that moved from one school to another increased from 9.5 percent in 2004-05 to 11.4 percent in 2016-17, more than 40 percent greater than the national figure (8.1 percent). Turnover is especially high in the states urban districts (24 percent) and among charter schools (37 percent), the report said.

9. The percentage of Michigan adults with a college degree has increased.

About 30% of Michigan adults age 25 and older had at least a bachelors degree in 2018, according to U.S. Census estimates. Thats up from 25% in 2010.

Driving that trend is younger adults. An estimated 28% of adults age 25 to 34 and 29% of those age 35 to 44 had a bachelors in 2010 compared to 34% and 35% respectively in 2018.

Related stories:

15 demographic trends that defined Michigan in the 2010s

7 economic trends of note over the past decade

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9 trends that helped define Michigan education in the 2010s - MLive.com

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January 2nd, 2020 at 7:41 am

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