Detroit, Eastern Michigan University, Education, Rick Snyder — December 18, 2015 at 2:34 pm

The epic failure of EAA is still a thing, only 1 (ONE!) EAA 4th-grader passes M-STEP math test


For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to ensure that the utter and tragic failure of Gov. Snyder’s experiment on Detroit school children – the Education Achievement Authority – does not go down the memory hole. I told the story in 127 Eclectablog headlines and reminded people that these failures have been stacking up for four years during which we are repeatedly told to “give them more time”.

And still the evidence continues to accumulate. This morning the Detroit Free Press reported a statistic so shocking that I’m surprised it’s not making national news. Their analysis of the testing results from the new M-STEP standardized test showed that only a single EAA fourth-grader passed the math portion of the test:

Detailed results from Michigan’s tough new standardized exam paint a worrisome picture for many schools in Detroit and will likely boost state efforts to fix what many see as a broken educational system in the city.

Just one fourth-grader in schools run by the Education Achievement Authority — a state district created to turn around the worst-performing schools in the state — passed the math portion of the exam, according to results released this morning. Overall, only 1.2% of the students in the district passed in math and 5.6% passed in English language arts. In some grades and subjects, not one student passed.

This “district for wayward schools” has fifteen schools in it, nine of which are elementary schools and yet only one of those fourth-graders was academically advanced enough to simply pass the test. It’s an astonishing statistic and shows once again just how profoundly the EAA is failing the students it is tasked to educate and it’s a blot on our fine state that these children are being consigned to a life of inadequate education because the leaders of this state are so unwilling to admit they’ve made a mistake that they refuse to waver from the path they are on.

I’ll keep saying this until it’s no longer necessary: with an education system that is so provably a failure, it’s time we quit trying to do it on the cheap and actually start making real investments in schools that are failing to properly educate Michigan kids whether they are in Detroit or elsewhere. We need an “Education Surge” where we plow as many resources as are needed into these school systems to turn them around as quickly as is humanly possible. We need to hire the best teachers around and adequately compensate them for the difficult task we’re asking them to do. We need to staff the schools with administrators that will support and enhance the work of the teachers. We need to implement proven education solutions with cutting edge technology, superior classroom and social support, and house them in facilities that children want to be in.

Instead we’ve done the opposite of all of these things. Our state government has slashed education budgets to the point where even our worst-performing schools don’t have the resources to do it right. The EAA was staffed largely with inexperienced teachers and poor leaders. They used EAA students as guinea pig beta testers for unproven education software. There was grift and corruption and poor oversight and waste. It’s a case study in how NOT to education children, much less children who are in a difficult situation to begin with.

And yet many of our state legislators want to expand the EAA statewide. The university that is their partner maintains the relationship but has done nothing to contribute to helping it succeed. And our Gov. smiles for the cameras as he lies about the EAA’s record.

One child. A single fourth-grader. After four years of experimentation, that is how many kids in their nine elementary schools know basic math skills enough to simply pass the test. If that’s not enough of an indictment to bring the entire system to a screeching halt and trigger a serious, concerted effort to invest in our struggling schools, then I fear nothing ever will be. In fact, if it doesn’t, it will prove what I have long feared: that the EAA was, from its inception, designed to fail.

  • Martin Pollard

    As always, follow the money. For such a colossal failure to not only be continued, but wanting to be expanded, tells me that there are more than a few people in our government making money hand over fist at the expense of our children.

    • At this point, it may not be just about money. It may also be about ending teacher unions. It may be about control of the curriculum, including getting out from under the 1st Amendment restrictions on pushing religion in (public) schools.

      • Imari Childress

        As far as ending teacher unions… We must not throw out the baby with the bath water. Teacher unions are the largest in the country. Their existence strengthens and validates the rights of workers in other fields as well. Workers need to have protection from management and bargaining power. History shows this (take a look at Walmart). This is especially true as for-profit entities make their move on our education system. Can you imagine what would happen if our education system turned into a giant Walmart conglomerate? Autonomy and authority need to be returned to teachers. The broader social context of the students needs to be acknowledged. In the current conditions, holding a teacher soley responsible for their students’ lack of achievement is like holding a track coach accountable for a runner with no legs. No one goes into teaching because they don’t care about the well being of their students. You could take every high performing teacher from every high performing wealthy district, pay them $100K/year, give every student an iPad and these students will still perform poorly. Stop blaming teachers and investigate the true causes of this problem.

        • Your comment suggests that you are under the impression that I have something against unions or teachers or both. I do not. I was only speculating on the motives of republicans and conservatives.

          While I have some thoughts on how to modernize and reinvigorate unions, I consider unions critical to a healthy economy and a healthy democracy.

          • Imari Childress

            Sorry.. .read this wrong?:
            “It may also be about ending teacher unions”

            I think, yes…the business-centric folks would love to dismantle unions. They are by default at odds. Scott Walker, for example..

          • Imari Childress

            I’ll have to go spend my rant energy on someone else…

  • Char Rochfort

    The governor’s baby – known as the EAA scam – was never designed to educate children. The EAA’s purpose was and is to 1.) rip off the per-pupil funding from traditional public school districts throughout the state, 2.) destroy DPS and other districts only to replace them with for-profit charter school chains like the failed Broad based New Orleans scheme, and 3.) grab the cash and hand it over to the governor’s corporate buddies who in turn may very well be the original NERD fund donors. We, the public, will never know their identities because the names of the NERD fund donors remain conveniently hidden. There appears to be a strong and scary Broad foundation’s connection with the EAA through its governor appointed past and current Chancellors along with their hand picked staff members. The failed and corrupt EAA must be closed down for good.

  • judyms9

    That lone fourth grader who passed the math component of the M-STEP must be hired immediately to teach his or her peers because somehow this student managed to keep the entire EAA math student population from being deemed a blowout.
    Your relentless scrutiny of this rolling debacle is outstanding, Chris, although the expanding educational rot makes me almost afraid to read each succeeding installation.