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Michigan planning to replace M-STEP with new assessment

Michigan students in third through eighth grades take the Michigan Student Test of Educational...
Michigan students in third through eighth grades take the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, at the end of every school year. But the Michigan Department of Education has plans to replace it with a different assessment by the 2018/19 school year. (WLUC)
Published: Sep. 5, 2017 at 5:25 PM EDT
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Michigan students in third through eighth grades take the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, at the end of every school year. But the Michigan Department of Education has plans to replace it with a different assessment by the 2018/19 school year.

Critics say the M-STEP test is deeply flawed. For example, the test is taken in spring, but schools usually don't get results back until the following fall.

"I guess we like to think of that as an autopsy; you give it, you get the results back, and the patient has already moved on," said Debra Asano, associate superintendent for teaching, learning and technology services for the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA) . "So there's really not a lot you can do."

Asano said an ideal testing system would show growth throughout the school year.

"The vision includes benchmark assessments that can be given in the fall, midyear, as well as the spring, so that we can monitor student growth, not just proficiency," she said.

Michigan State Superintendent Brian Whiston has publicly agreed with the idea of benchmark assessments. He announced a

for the state, with fall, (optional) winter, and spring tests.

Michigan retired the old test, the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), in 2013, and began using M-STEP. Since then, the test hasn't had enough stability to measure schools' year-to-year progress.

"Right now with M-STEP, there are so many changes," said Julie Peterson, principal of Lakeview Elementary School. "We haven't given the same test for the last three years. It changed from being paper/pencil to online, and the online assessment tools changed."

Changing exams yet again would mean even more time until the state can evaluate schools' test data. But Whiston said if the state switched tests, it would stick with the new assessment for at least 10 years.

Michigan lawmakers will consider several assessments, including the

's test, which is popular among educators in the Upper Peninsula.

While the decision of which new test to use could be made this year, it would not be implemented until the 2018/19 school year.