Michigan’s Education Ranking Declines Due to Chronic Absenteeism and Declining Test Scores: Kids Count Report

Michigan’s Child Well-Being Rankings Decline: 2024 Kids Count Report Highlights Education Challenges

Michigan’s standing in terms of child well-being continues to slip, with the state now placing in the bottom third among all states.

This conclusion arises from the 2024 Kids Count Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an annual report examining recent household data across all 50 states. Analyzing 16 indicators spanning economic well-being, education, health, and family and community factors, the report ranks states based on overall child welfare.

The latest findings reveal a concerning trend for Michigan, which now sits at 34th place nationwide for overall child well-being, dropping two spots from the previous year’s ranking.

Of particular concern is the state’s education sector, where Michigan ranks 41st out of 50 states, marking its lowest performance yet. Anne Kuhnen, the Kids Count policy director for the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), highlighted troubling statistics, including a notable increase in fourth graders scoring below proficiency in reading and eighth graders scoring below proficiency in math compared to previous years.

Furthermore, Michigan grapples with a high chronic school absenteeism rate, significantly surpassing the national average. Alarmingly, racial disparities persist, with a disproportionate number of American Indian and Black children experiencing chronic absenteeism.

Monique Stanton, MLPP president and CEO, emphasized the interplay between school absence and childhood poverty and trauma. Given that nearly half of Michigan’s children have encountered adverse childhood experiences, efforts to address childhood poverty and strengthen family support systems are imperative.

Despite these challenges, there are some bright spots in Michigan’s child well-being landscape. The state’s health ranking improved to 22nd place, largely due to its low rate of uninsured children, which stands at just 3%, among the best in the country. Additionally, positive trends, such as declining teen birth rates and modest improvements in family and community factors, offer glimmers of hope.

However, economic well-being remains a significant hurdle for Michigan, with over half a million children living in households lacking full-time, year-round employment. Housing affordability also poses a considerable challenge, with a quarter of children residing in households spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

Addressing these systemic issues requires multifaceted approaches, including policies to support economic security, access to affordable housing, and initiatives to bolster educational resources and mental health services for children.

Ultimately, the 2024 Kids Count Report underscores the urgent need for concerted action to improve child well-being in Michigan. While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing educational disparities, the root causes of these challenges demand sustained attention and proactive intervention from policymakers, educators, and community leaders alike.

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