May 19, 2021

Mark Johnson: Michigan schools navigate not-so-standardized testing season

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Mark Johnson, writing for the Lansing State Journal, takes a look at how standardized testing is anything but standard this year. From the quasi-optional nature of the test to the general disruption of the year, educators like Glenn Mitcham, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for East Lansing Public Schools, find reason to question the usefulness of this year’s results.

In normal years, ELPS would be able to compare test scores with those from previous years to see where improvement is needed. But because so many fewer students are taking the test — and doing so after a year of mostly remote class — this year’s results won’t hold much value, Mitcham said.

“Any data that we get from the M-STEP we will evaluate and look at it, but my guess is it won’t carry the same amount of weight and impact that it usually does,” Mitcham said. “They’re not a comparable set of scores to years past. It’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison.”

Some educators argued the test should have been shelved altogether, with Michigan coming off a year of remote learning and still in the throes of the pandemic. State Superintendent Michael Rice slammed the U.S. Department of Education for its decision not to let Michigan cancel the M-STEP and other standardized tests for a second straight year.

“(The U.S. Department of Education’s) lockstep allegiance in a pandemic to state summative assessments such as M-STEP is simply fidelity to two decades of education policy drift under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and its uncreative and still punitive offspring,” Rice said in an April 6 press release.

Read the full op-ed here.

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