Michigan to cut some parts of M-STEP exam to save time

The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Education plans to drop some parts of its new statewide assessments in response to complaints that the testing took up too much class time last spring.

Michigan students in grades 3-8 and 11 took the M-STEP assessments for the first time in April.

In an online newsletter posted Thursday, the Department of Education said it will drop the English language arts and math sections from the M-STEP for 11th graders, cutting testing time by up to eight hours.

In addition, for students in grades 3-8, the “performance task” section of the English language arts exam will be given only to fifth-graders and eighth-graders. MDE said the change will cut testing time by 2 1/2 hours for students in the other four grades.

The department also plans to let students take the tests “in smaller portions” over several days, “so that students will not be required to complete the test in one sitting.”

The state also is adjusting the testing period. For spring 2016, testing will begin April 11 and be completed by May 27 — a seven-week window, instead of the eight weeks allowed this past spring.

Students in grades 5, 8 and 11 will take the tests from April 11-29; grades 3 and 6 from April 25-May 13 and grades 4 and 7 from May 9-27.

The M-STEP was introduced as a replacement for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, in use since the 1970s.

Originally, the state planned to use Smarter Balanced, an online-only computer adaptive test, but the legislature scrapped that assessment because conservatives associated it with the Common Core State Standards, which they believe threaten local control of education.