A new statewide testing system for Michigan’s public school students appears to be in the works, but superintendents are expressing some concern.
The system would be aligned with the Common Core standards for math and reading that the legislature approved last year.
state Department of Education has contracts ready to implement
something called the Smarter Balanced assessment system, but the fact
that it would be new to students is worrying some school officials.
companies that have testing materials available, Smarter Balanced has
been endorsed by the Michigan Assessment Consortium as most appropriate
for the state. The Education Trust-Midwest, a statewide education
research, information and advocacy organization also has endorsed
A statement issued by superintendents
from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties said that while Smarter Balanced
meets a number of desirable criteria, “it is unclear whether or not
Michigan has done sufficient field testing to assure accurate and
adequate implementation of this new assessment system. Also, there are
parts of the system still under development. We recommend due diligence
on the state’s part before implementing and then using this new
assessment system for accountability purposes.”
“I don’t have the
confidence it’s going to be done right. Too much emphasis is put on one
assessment,” said Riverview Superintendent Russell Pickell, echoing the
formal statement by the superintendents.
“We believe a statewide
assessment applied to every student in every grade needs to be carried
out ONLY because it is required by the federal government in order to
receive federal funds,” the superintendents said. “If not for that, we
would not support a single statewide test given every year to every
student for accountability purposes. If federal rules allowed, we
believe that the state could accurately inform itself as to the progress
of students on the standards via state-developed benchmark testing
which could be done at three grade levels (such as 4,7,10) with a random
sample of students.”
Pickell also questioned “the amount of time
these tests take.” He said the state is being rushed into the new
system because of deadlines.
He worries about how the test
results will be used, and pointed out that it is so technology dependent
— i.e., can only be taken online — some scores “may have nothing to do
The first time the test is used it can do nothing more than establish a baseline, Pickell said.
Wyandotte School Superintendent
Carla Harting also indicated support for the concerns raised in the
statement by the superintendents from the three counties.
The superintendents from the three counties acknowledged they appear to have no choice.
this month, officials from the Education Trust-Midwest addressed the
legislature to voice support of the state’s plans to implement the new
college- and career-ready state assessment system.
new assessment system will provide us a powerful driver to transform our
public schools’ teaching and learning — and ensure all of our students
are college- and career-ready for today’s globally competitive knowledge
economy,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of ETM.
ETM cautioned against state leaders allocating budget money to be used
to support one state assessment for educator evaluations and to measure
student performance, and another to measure student growth for school
“Such a move would result in unnecessary
additional testing time for students, and unnecessary and significant
additional costs for the state to bear,” Arellano said.
state’s planned new assessment system will generate far more reliable,
helpful student growth data than Michigan has ever had,” said Sarah
Lenhoff, director of policy and research for ETM. “These rich new data
will help educators and schools tailor interventions and learning
strategies for students, even in their K-3 years. If developed and
funded appropriately, we will have such a system in place by spring of
“This is a game-changer for our state,” Arellano said.