Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) reported positive overall proficiency (at and above grade level performance) rate increases on the 2019 Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), PSAT 8, and PSAT/SAT assessment results. Students in Detroit Public Schools Community District improved over 2018 results across all tested grade-levels in both the English/Language Arts and Mathematics components of M-STEP assessments. Proficiency improvement in both reading and math represents the strongest single year improvement since the inception of the M-STEP exam in 2015 for the District. Also noteworthy is that the District’s proficiency improvement compared to last year outpaced the state’s in all but one grade and subject area (less than 0.1 difference in grade 3 literacy). Overall these results demonstrate encouraging signs of improvement and reinforce confidence in the District’s multi-year reform strategy.
“These positive results are a sign of things to come in all of our schools. There was nothing random about this improvement. Instead, this is what occurs with strategic and deliberate reform based on best practice,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD. “We knew that this year would be the year to demonstrate improvement since last year, our first year, was a baseline year of performance to build from considering that we returned the EAA schools to the District. Year one was also focused on analyzing systems and processes and building trust. Over the past two years we have engaged thousands of teachers in professional development, equipped our classrooms with high-quality curriculum, and worked on culture and climate. This spring, the first set of students to benefit from these reforms, our K-8 children, showed that when they are given the opportunity to learn at grade level, they will. Now that we are implementing a similar set of strategies in our high schools, we are positioned to see improvement at scale in the upcoming year.”
The assessments, administered every spring to Michigan students in grades 3 through 7 and to high school students in grade 11, provide a common measure of literacy, math, and social studies achievement across the state. The results allow students, families and educators to understand progress toward grade level expectations and make meaningful plans for improvement. Beginning in 2019, the college readiness standards-aligned PSAT 8 assessment replaced the M-STEP assessment for students in grade 8.
The results reinforce confidence in the direction and action steps taken so far as part of that plan, including:
- Proficiency levels improved in both M-STEP English/Language Arts and M-STEP Mathematics at the District level. 12.7 percent of DPSCD students in grades 3-7 English Language Arts (ELA) were proficient, up 1.2 percentage point from 2018, and 10.1 percent of DPSCD students in grades 3-7 Mathematics were proficient, up 3.4 percentage points from 2018.
- Districtwide, every tested grade-level improved overall proficiency levels in both English/Language Arts and Mathematics from 2018. Particularly encouraging improvements were made in Mathematics proficiency results in grades 3 (up 5.3 percentage points from 2018), 4 (up 3.5 percentage points from 2018), and 5 (up 3.6 percentage points from 2018).
- As projected in our five-year theory of action, the results in K-8 also point to a set of proof point schools, some of which saw double digit improvement gains in ELA, Math, or both. These will serve as model campuses going into the third year of reform in the District.
- As a group, Partnership Schools demonstrated equal or greater improvement rates on M-STEP than the District average. English/Language Arts results were particularly promising in Partnership Schools, which improved by 5.6 percentage points from 2018. Mathematics improved at a rate that matched the District’s overall improvement of 3.4 percentage points.
- This was the state’s first year implementing PSAT 8 instead of M-STEP for students in grade 8. The District’s new baseline proficiency levels were established at 24.5% in Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and 9.0% in Mathematics. While these are both higher rates than previously reported by M-STEP results, the two assessments are not equivalent and summative results should not be compared directly.
- In all areas except grade 3 ELA, DPSCD shows stronger growth than state averages on M-STEP. Our results compared to the state in Mathematics is a particular bright spot. In four cases, where the state declined, DPSCD showed positive growth. In social studies, where the District experienced a slight decline in three grade levels, that decline was less than the statewide decline.
At the high school level, the percentage of grade 11 students meeting SAT college readiness performance benchmarks decreased slightly in Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (28.3 percent, down 2.3 percentage points from 2018) and remained largely flat in Mathematics (11.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from 2018) at the District level. Across all grades assessed on the PSAT/SAT, the statewide declines were greater on both assessments, as was the decline in college readiness overall.
With the District’s planned multi-stage curriculum reform efforts, which were initially focused on implementation at the K-8 grade levels over the past two years, scheduled for expansion into high schools this coming year.
“These results reflect the meaningful changes happening in our schools through the implementation of our Strategy Plan. I hear from teachers, families, and students that they can feel the difference in our classrooms. We knew we were improving but the data now confirms it. We still have work to do, but are moving in the right direction and we must stay focused to create accelerated improvement that is long-term and sustainable,” said Board President, Dr. Iris Taylor.
The Michigan Department of Education provides paper-based parent reports for all students who take the M-STEP Assessment. DPSCD families should expect these reports to be sent home with students during the month of September and are welcomed to schedule time to talk with their student’s teacher about what the results mean and how to support their child’s learning at home.