The National Assessment of Educational Progress is considered by many experts as “the nation’s report card,” and its latest results released yesterday offer little to celebrate in Michigan. Specifically, average scores here ranked 36th nationally in fourth grade reading, 42nd in fourth grade math, 28th in eighth grade reading and 36th in eighth grade math.

Similarly, in “apples-to-apples” comparisons of students who share similar demographic and socio-economic backgrounds, NAEP data show Michigan falling short. Compared to their peers, white students here rank 45th in fourth grade math, 37th in eighth grade reading and 44th in eighth grade math. Michigan students who do not qualify for a free or reduced-price school lunches performed below the national average in three of the four subjects.

It gets worse: Black students in Michigan rank dead last in fourth grade reading and math, second-to-last in eighth grade math, and ninth from the bottom in eighth grade reading.

There were a few bright spots: Michigan’s Hispanic students scored above the state’s overall standing on all four tests, and in some cases by substantial margins. For example, the state’s overall rank in eighth grade reading was 28th place, but our Hispanic students came in fourth. In eighth grade math our statewide average was 36th place, but our Hispanic students came in just 13 places from the top.

While these test scores are not the only measure by which schools should be judged, they clearly demonstrate that improvements in Michigan’s K-12 public schools are sorely needed.