2010 was a banner year for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), since it was the year in which so many states adopted these standards and made them an integral part of public school education.
CCSS adoption took place in the great state of Michigan in 2010, signaling a commitment to high standards of learning for K-12 students. With the 44-year-old Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) still in place, however, the state's legislature and the Michigan Department of Education decided it was time to step it up—hence the advent of the M-STEP, or Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress.
The decision was made in June 2014 and the new assessments were rolled out in spring of 2015, thus requiring Michigan's public school students, parents, and educators to adapt to these new tests in a relatively short period of time.
Given the pace and significance of this change, it's worth taking a look at some facts and figures that you might not already know about the M-STEP.
1. Wide range of subjects to be tested.
The M-STEP will cover a broad age range of content areas for Michigan's public school students, starting as early as grade 3 for language arts and math, introducing science at grade 4, and bringing social studies into the mix at grade 5.
Additionally, for 11th-graders the tests include a college entrance exam and a work skills assessment.
2. Development assistance from Smarter Balanced.
The state's intention to keep M-STEP assessment content local and Michigan-created has been fulfilled, but not without input from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which has developed standardized assessments for a number of states.
Nonetheless, the state did seek and accept developmental input from Michigan public school educators when creating the M-STEP exams.
3. Originally not conceived as a permanent test.
While it is clear now that the M-STEP will be renewed next year, it was first utilized as a stopgap test to replace the MAEP while a different, more permanent test was to be developed.
When a three-year contract with five years of possible extensions was announced in March 2015, it became evident that the M-STEP is indeed here to stay.
4. Computer-based assessments and computer-based item types.
The spring 2015 rollout of M-STEP digital testing has been reported as not necessarily glitch-free, but still generally lacking in widespread network outages or failures.
This is an impressive feat, considering the report of 46,000 students taking the computerized exams during day two of testing.
An important part of the new computer-based assessments are new computer-based, or technology enhanced, item types. These new items avoid multiple choice by using fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, drawing, and other approaches.
Check out LearnBop’s brand new Technology Enhanced Items (TEI) to see what new computer-based item types will look like. Teachers can use these new items right now for free!
5. Can I opt out?
While some parents have opposed the new testing, the Michigan Department of Education remains committed to a 95% student participation rate. Reasons cited include the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, as well as threats of "lowered Scorecard outcomes" and the potential for schools "to be named for interventions and supports."
We hope this list was informative, and that you learned something you didn't know before. We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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About the Author
David Moadel is in his third decade working in education. He has taught, mentored, and inspired students from elementary age through adult. David has earned his master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the American College of Education, and is currently a certified teacher in Florida. David enjoys teaching, writing, and utilizing technology tools to communicate with people with diverse viewpoints across the globe.