M-STEP Results Reset the Academic Bar of Higher Expectations for Michigan Students

DashBoard, Oct. 28, 2015

Michigan has reset the bar on learning with the release of the rigorous M-STEP statewide student assessment results taken last spring.

“With this all-new and more rigorous test, we expected statewide student scores to be lower than what we’d seen with the old MEAP tests,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “While the overall scores on this new test are low, they aren’t as low as we first thought they could be."

“In order to prepare our students for the careers of the 21st century and to vault Michigan to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years, we need high standards and rigorous assessments,” Whiston added. “This year’s results set the new baseline from which to build.”

After 44 years of the Michigan Education Assessment Program test, 80 percent of Michigan students across the state sat down in front of computers to take the first-ever M-STEP. A paper and pencil option also was available for the handful of districts not yet prepared to test online.

Whiston said the M-STEP measures the state’s standards that give students a deeper understanding to what they are learning. It requires students to move beyond bubble sheets and multiple choice questions to a more interactive, engaging assessment. Students also must demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving and deeper knowledge through written responses.

“Wherever we set the achievement bar, the students will jump over it,” Whiston said. “It’s about expectations. As a state, we need to raise the expectations.”

The M-STEP results will be released in a staggered sequence, with the public release of statewide aggregates today. Schools and districts then will receive testing data through the MDE secure website for schools’ access only. Later this year, school and district aggregate results will be available.

Michigan’s federal ESEA Flexibility waiver, approved by the U.S. Department of Education in August, provides that Michigan will not complete or issue public, high-stakes accountability in the form of top-to-bottom rankings and school report cards until fall 2017. 

Additionally, MDE will provide schools with useful reports and data that can be used to guide and improve student instruction based upon the first year of implementation of the M-STEP later this year. MDE provided preliminary reports to schools within about two weeks of the close of each testing window.

The 2016 M-STEP will include improvements announced this summer by the department, based upon feedback from school districts during the first administration of the test and survey responses from more than 26,000 students and 5,000 parents following the spring testing window.

MDE heard that the testing time was an issue for schools in this first implementation and made some initial adjustments during that testing window. The department later announced that for spring 2016, the testing time for the Michigan Merit Exam will be reduced by eight hours, and by two-and-a-half hours for grades three, four, six and seven.

The test also will be administered in smaller portions over multiple days so students will not be required to complete the test all in one sitting.

Whiston said that the department currently is conducting an assessment vision workgroup with education stakeholders to see how student assessments can be streamlined for spring 2017 and beyond.

Source: Michigan Department of Education Press Release, Oct. 27, 2015

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