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Politicians working to pause standardized testing for upcoming school year

 Michigan students in third through eighth grades take the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, at the end of every school year. But the Michigan Department of Education has plans to replace it with a different assessment by the 2018/19 school year.
Michigan students in third through eighth grades take the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, at the end of every school year. But the Michigan Department of Education has plans to replace it with a different assessment by the 2018/19 school year. (WLUC)
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Democratic senators introduced a bill package on Wednesday to pause most standardized tests for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Our students are coming back to school after a long break from in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we don’t know exactly what the impact will be on the upcoming school year. As a result, meaningful face-to-face instruction between teachers and their students will be vital to catch students up and get them back on track,” Sen. Polehanki said.

The bill originated from the questions asked by parents, teachers, and administrators started raising questions on how to best prepare for the upcoming school year. These bills were drafted while considering the recommendations of the Michigan Return to School Advisory Council and Executive Order 2020-142 issued by Governor Whitmer.

“With our children’s education and future at risk, it doesn’t make sense for us to get back to ‘business as usual’ in the midst of an unprecedented moment,” Sen. Geiss said. “We need to take the time to think critically about how to best ensure that all students get the education they need while teachers can safely evaluate students’ growth and comprehension of the material.”

Highlights of the bills in this package include the following:

  • Pausing the Read by Grade including retention and the requirement of administrating the screener for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1045 by Sen. Polehanki);
  • Pausing the requirement that districts administer the MSTEP and PSAT 8-10 to receive state aid payments for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1041 by Sen. Geiss);
  • Pausing the state mandate that districts evaluate teachers for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1044 by Sen. Bayer);
  • Amending the requirement of teacher evaluations in tenure act to exclude the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1040 by Sen. Hertel);
  • Pausing the state mandate that districts administer the Michigan Merit Exam including the ACT Work Keys in the Michigan School Code (Senate Bill 1042 by Sen. Irwin);
  • Pausing the state mandate that districts administer the Michigan Merit Exam including the ACT Work Keys in the Michigan School Aid Act (Senate Bill 1038 by Sen. Brinks);
  • Pausing the requirement that the Kindergarten Readiness Exam be administrated for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1043 by Sen. McCann); and,
  • Pausing the requirement that the Michigan Department of Education assign schools a “letter grade” for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 1039 by Sen. Wojno).

Education leaders from across the state have recognized the need to prioritize instruction over standardized testing for the coming school year. This is why the Michigan State Superintendent for instruction Dr. Michael Rice requested a student testing and school accountability waiver from the U.S. Department from Education.

The SAT and the few other tests will remain. Furthermore, schools will retain the ability to do benchmark tests to stay updated on student progress.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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