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New MSU study finds Michigan students are recovering academically from the pandemic

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new study finds Michigan school children are making up some ground lost during remote schooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michigan State University researchers studied student benchmark assessment data from the fall 2020 to spring 2022.

“They grew faster over the 21-22 school year than the same cohort had the year prior,” said Katharine Strunk, the director of MSU’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, “By the end of the 21-22 school year, students in a given grade, for the most part generally surpassed the end of year achievement levels, on average of the previous cohort.”

But Strunk says it’s not all good news.

“In 2021, about 18% students didn’t demonstrate any growth on the math achievement test...with that decline to about 10 percent in 20-21-22. So that’s progress,” said Strunk.

However, Strunk says that’s still substantially higher than the 7% that would have expected in a pre-pandemic school year.”

Strunk says the study finds student progress did not “make up” for the interrupted learning that occurred because of the pandemic.

Matt Schmidt is the School Superintendent of the Bangor Township district. He said at his school district north of Bay City student achievement depends on grade level.

“We’ve seen some grade levels exceed much higher (during the past academic year),” said Schmidt. “Fifth grade for us has been a struggle.”

However, Schmidt is optimistic, with the supports his district has in place, given time post-pandemic, his students will be back on track.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist met with Schmidt, along with district teachers, parents and students on Monday.

Gilchrist was there to highlight the Whitmer administration’s efforts to promote tutoring and other forms of personal instruction programs.

He says the MI-Kids Back on Track program has already received $50 million this year. But Gilchrist says more is needed.

“It’s important that we not stop (and) we continue to make these investments....that will lead to these parents and families having what they need for their kids to be successful,” said Gilchrist.

Gilchrist says he would like to see the Legislature approve additional funding for the programs this fall.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.