Before Michigan’s public school children left for Spring Break, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan sent out a letter to all parents informing them of the new standardized test their children would take when they came back from vacation. M-STEP testing will begin next week for grades three through eight, and juniors in high school. Unlike the MEAP, this test will be online, and require students not only answer questions correctly, but also develop computer skills requiring them to complete specific tasks. Schools without the necessary technology to take M-STEP online will take a paper test the school had to request in November.
M-STEP is an assessment put together in nine months after a law required the Michigan Department of Education to replace the 40+ year old MEAP. 2015 is the only year the current form of M-STEP will be used, as the law also required the MDE to outsource the state’s standardized testing. The MDE announced just before spring break that Michigan’s standardized test over the next three years will be managed by two out of state corporations at the cost of $104 million. Both of these companies are well-known for hiring temp employees for $11 per hour to score exams school district funding and teacher evaluations are riding on.
Another letter issued by the MDE claims the state must have 95% participation in the M-STEP assessment:
The student participation rate for all public districts and schools in Michigan is 95% of enrolled students in tested grades for each content area assessed. The 95% test participation rate ensures that Michigan public schools are in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, which requires that 95% of students enrolled are tested with the state’s assessment programs.
What this means is if your kids don’t take this test that is only being used this year, can’t be used to measure progress from last year, and will be even more useless next year when they take yet another test … well, the state would really like it if you wouldn’t opt your children out pretty please.
Parents of students that elect not to have their child take the state assessment program and students themselves that elect not to test may present certain challenges to their local school district. Districts and schools that do not meet the participation rate receive consequences of lowered Scorecard outcomes. Furthermore, schools that consecutively fail to meet the test participation requirement have potential to be named for interventions and supports.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? The fact is, your school district won’t lose money or be penalized by the federal government if your kids don’t take the test.
You can learn more about opting out of M-STEP here and here. Keep in mind that these corporations administering and scoring M-STEP collect data on your children, and may be monitoring student social media even after school during testing time, as school districts and parents in New Jersey found out recently. As parents, you have the right to opt your children out of high-stakes standardized testing. Your school won’t get in trouble with the feds, and they won’t lose any money. Standardized testing is another excuse for corporate grift at taxpayer expense.