Michigan Students Set Baseline for New State Assessment

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

October 22, 2015

LANSING – Michigan students have set the course for success when they took the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) this past spring, establishing a new baseline for performance, with statewide results available in the days ahead, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

“I’m thrilled that Michigan was a leading state in successfully implementing a new assessment system,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “In 2010, we raised the bar on our state standards and our test now reflects that rigor.”

“This was an all-new and more rigorous test and the statewide results will be lower than we’ve seen in the past, and that’s ok,” Whiston said. “M-STEP sets up a new baseline from which to improve and set us on our way to be a Top Ten education state in 10 years.”

Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, expressed the importance of raising the academic bar for Michigan students.

"As a state, we will not be able to compete in the flat, global 21st Century dynamic marketplace if we don't have, and achieve, the highest academic standards,” Baruah said. “The discussion should not be maintaining high standards, but rather how can we raise our standards."

After 44 years of the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) test, 82 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 buildings 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. The standards now take students from just knowing the facts, to learning how to use those facts to understand context, apply them to problem solve, and make those facts relevant in their lives.

In Spring 2016, Michigan students will take the M-STEP in grades 3-8. Students in grade 11 will take the Michigan Merit Exam, which includes the SAT, WorkKeys, and M-STEP science and social studies tests. New for Spring 2016, students in grades 9 and 10 will take the PSAT.

MDE’s Deputy Superintendent of Accountability Services, Venessa Keesler, said that the 2016 M-STEP also will include improvements, based upon the first implementation feedback of school districts and a survey of more than 26,000 students and 5,000 parents to get their initial reaction.

“MDE heard that the testing time was an issue for schools in this first implementation,” Keesler said. “For Spring 2016, MDE is able to reduce testing time for juniors taking the Michigan Merit Exam by eight hours and by two and a half hours for grades three, four, six, and seven.”

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

Michigan’s federal ESEA Flexibility waiver, approved by the U.S. Department of Education on August 13, 2015, 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. However, MDE will calculate and publish accountability in the form of informational school rankings and diagnostic scorecards in Fall 2016, according to Keesler.

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. MDE provided preliminary reports to schools within about two weeks of the close of each testing window.

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.

The M-STEP results will be released in a staggered sequence with the public release of statewide aggregates first in the days ahead. Schools and districts then will receive testing data through the department’s secure website. Later this year, school and district aggregates will be available on mischooldata.org.

For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/mstep.