Making the Grade in Michigan

Listen Tuesdays at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM

According to the Kids Count report of April 2018, 56% of third graders in Michigan are not proficient in English Language Arts. At the same time, some new public school teachers in Michigan are leaving the classroom because they do not earn enough money for a decent living. Virtual and charter schools are on the rise in Michigan. And in some communities there are breakthroughs in raising better readers.

Covering education in Michigan is complex, but WKAR is committed to reporting on the problems, searching for solutions, and holding leaders accountable.

Listen for Making The Grade in Michigan with WKAR education reporter Kevin Lavery every Tuesday at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM's Morning Edition.

Ways to Connect

Michigan voters will select a new governor on Election Day.  The state’s chief executive will preside over a public school system that serves more than 1.5 million students.  The  six gubernatorial candidates are each outlining their vision for public education in Michigan. 

street sign
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

The midterm election is just three weeks away.  In mid-Michigan, one school board race has divided a community.  Four of the seven members of the Williamston Board of Education could be recalled for their support of a controversial transgender student policy.


Social studies standards
Courtesy / flickr/Travis Wise

Many people were outraged recently when the Texas Board of Education voted to remove figures such as Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from its history books. Michigan may be on a similar course. 

New Documentary Education Series On WKAR NewsTalk

Oct 5, 2018
Student in library

WKAR and American Public Media Reports present a new four-part series of education documentaries — topics of interest to educators, parents, students, and anyone concerned with our country’s future. WKAR NewsTalk at 105.1FM and AM870 present the series Sundays at noon in October.

students in classroom
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

Wednesday marks the fall Count Day in Michigan schools.  It’s a sort of census that helps the state determine how much per pupil funding it gives to local districts.  

WKAR Education Reporter Kevin Lavery talks with one local school leader about the importance of Count Day.  Dr. Nicole Beard is the principal at Riddle Elementary in Lansing.

yellow school bus
flickr/Those Guys 119

Waverly Community Schools in Delta Township is re-focusing on early elementary literacy in a bid to improve its state assessment scores. In 2015, 69 percent of Waverly third graders tested as "reading-proficient" on the M-STEP.  By 2018, that number had fallen to 37.7 percent.



Both WKAR and NPR are committed to education reporting you can find nowhere else. Every Tuesday on Morning Edition, Kevin Lavery tells you about the challenges and triumphs in turning around literacy here in Michigan. NPR also has an education unit, headed by native Michigander Steve Drummond, who talked about the importance of covering this topic with WKAR’s Reginald Hardwick.

bookshelf at library
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

Whether it’s Asimov or Zusak, Tolstoy or Tolkein, Americans are voting for their all-time favorite book.  At 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, WKAR-TV presents “The Great American Read.”  Tonight’s episode is the first in a series of seven highlighting 100 best-loved books selected in a national survey. 

Glen Lake Community Schools bus
Facebook/Glen Lake Community Schools

A Michigan school district has installed a new $156,000 security system designed to help protect students in the event of an active shooter.

school building
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

After an extensive renovation, a Lansing elementary school is re-opening with new facilities and a new focus. 

wooden blocks
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

Michigan students are back in class today. While they’re busy adjusting to their new routine, hundreds of districts across the state are studying last year’s report card. The results of the 2018 Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or “M-STEP” are out.  WKAR education reporter Kevin Lavery talks with Morning Edition host Emily Fox about the reading scores in mid-Michigan.



Michigan is reporting slight improvement by third- and fourth-graders on the state's standardized reading test.

Pixabay Creative Commons

Michigan students are returning to school.  This year, there's a huge push to ensure all third graders can read proficiently by the end of the year.  Those who can't will be held back in 2019.  This summer, elementary teachers  spent much of their time preparing for the new standard. 


WKAR Education Reporter Kevin Lavery speaks with WKAR Director of Education Robin Pizzo about the training Michigan teachers received over the summer.

On this edition of Current State: Michigan goes Back To School.  We'll study the Third Grade Reading Law, pay a visit to East Lansing's first charter school and meet the 2018 Michigan Teacher Of The Year.

On August 7, voters will narrow a field of four Republicans and three Democrats vying to become Michigan’s 49th governor.   The Republicans in the race are Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette, state Senator Patrick Colbeck and physician Jim Hines.