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The Smartest Kids in the Nation

Dozens of states have taken steps to raise student achievement in their public schools – dramatically improving student scores on national tests. In Michigan, progress has remained agonizingly, stubbornly flat. How did this happen?

State education board urges Legislature to transform how schools are funded

The board’s report cites the recent Bridge series, “The smartest kids in the nation,” which chronicled how other states saw gains when they targeted funds to the schools that needed help most.

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Smartest kids: What Michigan schools can learn from leading states

Students from Minnesota to Florida are learning more. Is Michigan ready to do something about it?




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Smartest kids: Four school advocates raise their hands

We asked four fierce, very different education advocates how to improve Michigan schools. They hit on many reforms successfully used in leading states.




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Teachers need smaller classes, time to collaborate and meaningful training to make a difference

American education reforms of the past decade have not worked. Student achievement is not appreciably improving. Frequent high stakes testing allows less time to actually teach; teachers are evaluated on student test scores for things they were never told to teach; and […]

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Educate and train our teachers so they can help our students thrive

Michigan needs a good teacher in every classroom. Research shows students with well-prepared teachers can gain four months or more additional academic growth each year, helping struggling students catch up. Students with poor teachers never catch up. Michigan’s $12,644 per pupil funding […]

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Third graders must have solid reading foundation to succeed later

We’re having a vigorous debate in Michigan about how to address the fact that nearly one-third of our elementary school students are not proficient readers. Given the critical importance of early literacy to future academic success, Michigan is considering whether to join […]

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High standards and a coherent education strategy are critical

Over the last two years, our organization has studied leading education states to share these lessons with Michiganders about how we can raise student learning in our public schools. We’re glad that Bridge is working to share many of these lessons across […]

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How Tennessee, Michigan compare

How Michigan, Tennessee compare Tennessee has made great strides on national tests in recent years, a byproduct officials say of better teacher training and blah blah blah 4th grade math, all4th grade reading, all4th grade math, poor* students 4th grade math, not […]

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Smartest kids: Ignoring outcry, Massachusetts leaders chose excellence

Tough standards, targeted funding and a difficult test that every student must pass have elevated Massachusetts to the top of the class.




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Smartest kids: Massachusetts charter schools are few but mighty

Charters in the Bay State are fulfilling the promise of bringing innovation and performance to public education. The state keeps a tight rein on who can open charters and sets high standards for schools to remain open.




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How Michigan, Massachusetts compare

Use our interactive graphs to compare Michigan and Massachusetts across a wide range of test scores.




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Smartest kids: In Florida, early reading and frequent testing bring results, and pushback

Emphasis on literacy and testing to monitor progress are credited with a rise in student learning in Florida, particularly for low-income and minority students. But some ask, how much is too much?




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How Michigan, Florida compare

Florida students, including low-income students, have risen dramatically in national academic rankings while students in Michigan are being left behind.




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Smartest kids: Teaching starts early, with special focus on the poor, in Minnesota

Minnesota traces its elite status to tough academic standards, the nation’s most extensive early childhood education program and higher investment in low-income schools.




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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 […]

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Smartest kids: In Tennessee, an epic turnaround

A perennial bottom dweller in academic rankings, Tennessee has sprinted to respectability by demanding more of teachers and students and giving them the tools to succeed.

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Smartest kids graphic: How Michigan and Tennessee compare on NAEP

Comparing the latest NAEP scores from Michigan and Tennessee, you might not notice much difference: students in both states produce middling results. But these graphics show how Tennessee students are rapidly improving, while Michigan has barely budged.




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‘The smartest kids': About this series

As Michigan students muddle along in academic mediocrity, their peers across much of the nation are zooming past. What are other states doing that Michigan is not? Bridge visited four to find out.




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