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Some glitches reported in first week of M-STEP testing

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
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Some glitches have been reported during the first week of testing under the state’s new, mostly online standardized exam, though some districts say they’ve had no problems.

The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, replaces a pencil-and-paper exam — the Michigan Educational Assessment Program — that was used for more than 40 years.

The new test is being administered to students in grades 3-8, plus 11th grade. Students in about 80 percent of Michigan schools are taking the computerized version of the exam, while districts that received waivers are giving a paper-and-pencil version.

Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Rod Rock said there have been numerous problems, including login and connectivity issues.

“Many students received an error message regarding Internet connectivity when they logged in to the test,” he said. “It took an hour to update the 22 computers so that these students could test” on Tuesday.

He added: “Login time is extremely long and can take about 30 minutes just to get started,” Rock said.

Libraries, media centers and computer labs/devices in the district’s schools are not available for purposes other than testing.

“Students who are not testing have their concerns: ‘I can’t print anything, use the computers, study, or check out books,’” Rock said.

State education officials say any problems with the testing, which began Monday, have been isolated and addressed promptly.

“Our test administration call centers were busy the beginning of the week answering primarily test administration questions and password reset requests,” said Martin Ackley, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education. “While there have been a few isolated incidents reported, no widespread test system failures or network issues have occurred, and the reported incidents have been resolved in a timely manner.”

Arina Bokas, president of the Clarkston PTA Council, has an 8-year-old son in the third grade who is not testing until May, but her fifth-grade daughter, 11, was tested this week and found it overwhelming.

“She was tested in language arts on Tuesday and again on Thursday,” Bokas said. “It took 3-3.5 hours to complete each part of this portion of the M-STEP. On the second day, she got a headache and felt dizzy; she called home after the test was completed because she didn’t feel well.”

Bokas added: “Parents of secondary students report similar issues and those related to continuing course content.”

The Madison Schools District is faring much better with the testing.

“All in all, the testing has gone smooth after the first couple of days,” said Superintendent Randy Speck. “The pencil and paper test arrived on Monday. We had some confusion finding some of the information on the MDE website but that worked itself out. All in all, it has been pretty good.”


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