By Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.
The results from last spring’s M-STEP assessment, released this morning, show how far we have to go to make Michigan a top 10 education state.
With minor improvements here and small declines there, the overall picture is that Michigan’s children are not getting the preparation they need to be successful in school or later in college or careers.
But the worst thing we could do now would be to throw away the M-STEP assessment because we don’t like the results.
The Michigan Department of Education, with support from the state board, adopted the M-STEP following years of evaluation and analysis and study just two years ago. The business community supported the change wholeheartedly.
When we decided to adopt the M-STEP, to replace the 44-year-old MEAP test, a lot of thought, work and energy went into coming up with an assessment that would give us an accurate picture of where our students stand on real-world academic challenges, and where we compare with students from other states around the country.
So that’s why we’re disturbed to hear that some state leaders are considering replacing the M-STEP, which would be the third change for our students and teachers in four years.
It seems they’re listening to those few who will always be against rigorous standards, honest assessments and accountability. Instead they should be listening to the majority of people who want to see our children better prepared for the challenges of the future.
Making a change now would mean also it would be years before we have meaningful data on whether our students are making progress from year to year. It would also make it harder to measure how Michigan is doing compared with other states.
There is no evidence that there are other standards and assessments out there that are any better than the Michigan Standards and M-STEP.
Our children, and our state, can’t afford to wait to begin improving our schools.
The State Board of Education demonstrated bi-partisan leadership when it adopted M-STEP before the start of the 2014-15 school year. We urge them to not let the work of so many on behalf of our children’s future be cast aside by a few with self-interests.