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Half of Michigan students still not “proficient” on M-STEP

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G.
Creative Commons
Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.

While several grades made progress in certain subject areas, at least half of Michigan students still scored below “proficient” in every single section of the 2016 state standardized test – that’s math, science, English Language Arts, and social studies.

This is only the second time students have ever taken the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) since it was first rolled out in the spring of 2015.

And on the bright side: there were gains across the board in science. Plus 5th, 6th and 8th graders improved in English, while 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th graders did better in math than last year.

For 11th graders, 60% are seen as “career/college ready” in English, while only 37% are in math, based on their SAT scores.

Advocates of the M-STEP bill it as a more realistic, rigorous assessment that provides tough but true insight into where Michigan’s students are struggling, and where they’re making progress.

But it’s also been controversial, with some teachers saying it eats up too much instruction time, and some parents opting their kids out.

The state education department says it worked hard to get the results out quicker this year, and saw reduced testing time for the English section in several grades.

The SAT is also serving as the English and math section for 11th graders, so they only have to do the social studies and science sections of the M-STEP.

And this year, 95% of schools took the test online, compared with 80% last year.  

“The spring 2016 results show scores are improving,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston said in a statement Tuesday. “Additionally, we delivered the results earlier this year and significantly cut overall testing time.”

Some school districts are already reacting to the results, which you can readhere.

“First and foremost, I want to thank our students and teachers for everything they did to prepare for the new high-stakes test,” said Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal in a press release. “It was only the second year of testing with M-STEP and the new test certainly posed some new challenges, but there are no excuses. The bottom line is we have to do better and we will do better...."

Stateside's conversation with Suneet Bedi, a data and policy analyst with Education Trust Midwest, about the M-STEP test results

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."