Superintendents frustrated with standardized testing requirement

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education denied the state’s request to waive them for this school year
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - Upper Michigan schools will have to give standardized tests after all.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) denied the state’s request to stop them for this school year.

“I’m really disappointed and irritated,” said Bryan DeAugustine, NICE Superintendent.

“I don’t think it’s the best use of time,” said Coby Fletcher, Escanaba Superintendent. “It is what it is.”

USED said Michigan, “has not demonstrated specific circumstances that would warrant granting a waiver.”

“It’s like being in the middle of a battle and some officer behind the lines calls up and says, ‘hey we need to paint the tanks’ and you’re like, ‘Can this wait? We are kinda busy right now,’” said DeAugustine.

Schools across the state will start to give M-STEP testing as early as next week.

“There might be at least a day, sometimes two days, entire school days taking this test,” said DeAugustine

Students who are still learning virtually can come in-person to take tests, but are not required to. Many argue this time could be spent better.

“I talked to a lot of my teachers and my teachers make the argument that they rather use the time this year for instruction because we’ve lost so much,” said Dr. Steve Patchin, Hancock Superintendent.

It’s this frustration that is driving debate about the future of testing.

“In a normal year, these tests don’t do parents or kids much good at all,” said DeAugustine. “This system has been in place for decades and no real good has come out of it.”

Patchin says he does value the data tests give him. However:

“I would welcome a broader conversation about M-STEP and how we might be able to change that,” said Patchin.

Currently, the state already has other mandated benchmark testing in place that superintendents say gives them quicker and better information.

“With improvements in testing there’s really not much point in continuing to do the standardized testing other than I believe they have a strong lobby and deep pockets,” said Fletcher.

Public documents show the state is planning to spend $31 million in standardized testing next school year.

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