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Michigan education officials consider adding new, more frequent standardized testing

Oct 11, 2016

Michigan may soon be making changes to student testing. 

The state's Department of Education is considering adding  a standardized test that would go beyond what's included on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (or M-STEP), which was implemented during the 2014-2015 school year. 

It would focus on testing students’ abilities to be critical thinkers, to problem solve, and to communicate ideas, among other skills. The focus on these skills is part of MDE's plan to make Michigan a top 10 education state in the next 10 years.

The assessment would take place multiple times a year to better track student progress, according to State Superintendent Brian Whiston. Whiston said this type of assessment is necessary to track student progress in meeting those "top 10 in 10" goals. 

“If that’s what we want students to look like and we align our classrooms to that, then we ought to have an assessment system aligned to it as well,” he said. “And so we want problem solving, we want to be able to test writing, communication skills, and being able to work independently and as teams."

The new assessment wouldn’t completely replace the M-STEP. Instead, it would reduce the number of times students take the current test to just once in elementary school and once in middle school. 

But at a State Board of Education meeting Tuesday, some board members asked why the state wants to again make changes to testing. 

Vanessa Keesler is the Deputy Superintendent at MDE and says she understands these concerns, but that the changes will help minimize testing time and get information to parents and teachers more quickly.

“Michigan has been in a time of change around standards and assessments like many states in the last few years,” she said. “So, I think those fears are normal but we certainly want to reiterate our commitment to our rigorous career and college ready standards.”