Are Michigan state lawmakers smarter than third graders? A new bill might help us find out

Aug 23, 2013

Michigan state lawmakers are about to be put to the test.

A bill in Lansing would require members of the state board of education, the state superintendent of education, the governor, senators, and representatives to take the standardized tests normally administered to students in the third, eighth, and eleventh grades. Their results would be published online.

The bill, called the Mandatory Public School Test Validation Act, states:

“Each public officer shall take each required assessment test under conditions established by and under supervision of an independent testing agency. The test results shall be posted on the public website of the department of education and shall remain accessible for 1 year or longer.”

State representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) is the bill’s sponsor. He believes the requirement would provide lawmakers with firsthand knowledge of the tests, which would be useful for determining how much those test results should factor into teacher evaluation and pay. He also thinks the testing process would shed some light on the disputed Smarter Balanced testing.

“Testing originally was supposed to be to inform the teachers where the kids are and what they need to do to move them forward, but increasingly it’s being used for accountability. If we’re going to be doing particularly those kinds of tests where we don’t have any say on what’s on the tests, I think the elected officials ought to know what we’re requiring of our kids,” said McMillin.

Is this a good idea or a waste of time? Representative Bill Rogers (R-Genoa Township) tends to go with the latter.

“I think he’s going a little bit over the top. I think we have better things to do,” said Rogers.

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom