Lost student instruction caused by excessive snow days in Michigan has prompted state education officials to extend the testing window on the statewide spring assessment by a week.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Education are giving school districts five weeks to administer the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, this spring, rather than the typical four-week period.

M-STEP testing typically runs from early April to mid-May. It tests students in grades 3-8 in math, reading, science and social studies. Alternative tests were also given an additional week.

According to a memo from the department sent to district leaders on Thursday, due to the record number of snow days districts experienced this winter and the subsequent delays in student instruction, many school leaders asked for the extension.

"After discussions within the MDE and among our assessment vendors, and in consideration of the MDE’s operational needs, we will be extending the Michigan-developed state assessment testing windows ... by one week, for this year only," said Venessa A. Keesler, deputy superintendent at MDE. "The designated paper/pencil dates for M-STEP are not changing."

The adjustment will not be repeated after this year, Kessler said.

"The timing of statewide testing is critical in getting assessment data and other information back to our schools in a quick and timely manner," Kessler said in the memo. "This is especially important for next year, given the requirements of Michigan’s new 'Read by Grade Three' law."

Other tests, including the PSAT, SAT and ACT, will be administered on their scheduled dates, state education officials said.

Chris Wigent, president of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, said with some school districts racking up 23 snow days, students missed 23 days of learning.

"There is a lot of curriculum to get through to prepare students for the test," Wigent said. "This gives those districts that want it another week to prepare."

Some school districts such as Novi Community Schools will not be using the extension.

Novi superintendent Steve Matthews said his district had only six snow days and educators there decided to stay on schedule with the test.

"We appreciate flexibility, but our teachers want to get the test over with the get back to important stuff like teaching students," Matthews said.

"Our sense is we probably don’t need this. Our teachers have condensed some lessons."

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