Education

Michigan to Use ACT or SAT in New High School Exam

By Bess Keller — January 04, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Michigan will soon replace its homegrown high school test with one centered around a national college-entrance exam.

The change, scheduled to take place in the 2006-07 school year, makes the Great Lakes State the third, after Illinois and Colorado, to embrace an off-the-shelf college-entrance test for high schoolers. (“Michigan Considers Scrapping Its High School Test,” Nov. 24, 2004.)

It comes as states enter the final stages of gearing their accountability systems to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Under the 3-year-old law, states must test high school students in reading and mathematics at least once during high school. Starting in 2007, high school students must also be tested in science.

Michigan lawmakers approved the package of bills by large majorities in both chambers of the legislature on Dec. 9. The bill calls for the new test, the Michigan Merit Exam, to use the ACT or the SAT exam, which colleges nationwide use to gauge students’ levels of college readiness.

The ACT is produced by the Iowa City, Iowa-based ACT Inc., while the SAT is produced for the College Board by the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service.

The SAT or ACT portion of the new test will measure English and math skills, while additional segments testing science and social studies will follow closely the Michigan Educational Assessment System, or MEAP, tests now in use.

The new test could also include ACT WorkKeys, a test of workplace skills. But it should take less time to complete than the current test, according to Sen. Wayne Kuipers, the Republican who chairs the Senate education committee. He also expects that the part of the test drawn from the national exams will be graded much more quickly than the current exam, benefiting the schools and helping the state to comply with the deadlines of the federal education law.

“We wanted to have a test that was really meaningful to kids and parents, and provided good data to the schools,” Sen. Kuipers said. He called the change historic, noting that the MEAP tests, which will still be given in elementary and middle school, have been in use for more than a quarter of a century.

Tied to Merit Grants

The high school part of the current testing system has been the most controversial. Students and parents have long complained that the test is of no value to them, because colleges do not use it in admission decisions. Several years ago, the legislature created $2,500 “merit awards” that went to tuition at postsecondary institutions. The awards were dependent on MEAP scores, which in turn pushed up participation rates from around half to about 80 percent, Mr. Kuipers said.

Still, the federal law requires 95 percent participation on state exams, which is one of the reasons the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals lobbied the legislature for the new test. The new exam will continue to determine who receives the $2,500 merit grants.

State schools Superintendent Thomas D. Watkins Jr. and the Michigan state board of education had vigorously opposed switching to a test centered on the ACT or the SAT. They feared it would not relate closely to Michigan’s academic standards, and therefore would not be a good measure of how well schools were teaching the state standards, said Martin Ackley, the spokesman for the state education agency. The officials also worried about the cost of introducing a new test, he said.

But the education officials were eventually mollified by a requirement that the new test be aligned with state standards, through supplemental test elements if necessary.

“The board and the superintendent feel this constitutes the best of both systems,” said Mr. Ackley. “It should encourage students to take a college-entrance examination and look at going to college.”

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill into law this month.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week as Michigan to Use ACT or SAT in New High School Exam

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Students Argue Civics Education Is a Constitutional Right, Continue Court Fight
Students nationwide need to know how to participate in the political process and exercise their constitutional rights, their lawyers argue.
4 min read
High school teacher Natalie O'Brien, center, hands out papers during a civics class called "We the People," at North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield, R.I., on March 8, 2017. Students in Rhode Island are asking a federal appeals court to affirm that all public school students have a constitutional right to a civics education because they feel they aren't taught how to meaningfully participate in a democratic and civil society.
High school teacher Natalie O'Brien, center, hands out papers during a civics class called "We the People," at North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield, R.I., on March 8, 2017. Students in Rhode Island are asking a federal appeals court to affirm that all public school students have a constitutional right to a civics education because they feel they aren't taught how to meaningfully participate in a democratic and civil society.
Steven Senne/AP
Education Senators Put YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat on the Defensive on Kids' Online Safety
Senators questioned executives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat about what they’re doing to ensure young users’ safety on their platforms.
5 min read
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
Richard Drew/AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 27, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Vulnerable Students Left Behind as Schooling Disruptions Continue
The effects of unpredictable stretches at home can mirror those of chronic absenteeism and lead to long-term harm to learning.
4 min read
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Richard Drew/AP