What’s the Best Way to Classify Michigan’s Common-Core Testing Plans?

By Andrew Ujifusa — November 24, 2014 1 min read
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Earlier this month, we told you about Michigan’s “blended” approach to English/language arts and math tests for this school year. The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-Step) test, which will be administered next spring, will utilize items from the Smarter Balanced assessment as well as items developed by Michigan teachers.

You may recall that my colleague Catherine Gewertz and I have created an interactive map that tracks states’ E/LA and math testing plans for this year. We’ve updated it to reflect Michigan’s new testing plans, and I’ve embedded it here in the blog in case you’re deep enough into the weeds on this stuff that you like to track it (like we do).

Michigan’s decision presented new questions for us to consider: Should we say that its plans fall into the “other” category, since the state’s test will include items designed by its own educators? Or should we classify it as a “Smarter Balanced” state because consortium-written items will be in the test?

We decided ultimately that it’s best to say that the Wolverine State is a “Smarter Balanced” state in E/LA and math for this school year. Here’s why:

The Michigan Department of Education told us that while the 2014-15 E/LA and math tests will contain both Smarter Balanced items and items developed by Michigan teachers, the teacher-developed questions will be in field-test mode this year, so they won’t count towards students’ scores on the M-Step exams. (Michigan, like other Smarter-Balanced states, field-tested the consortium’s items during the 2013-14 school year.)

Earlier this year, Michigan lawmakers approved a bill that required the state to develop new Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests in English/language arts and math. (CORRECTION: I originally said that the bill also prohibited the administration of Smarter Balanced, but in fact the legislation did not mention that assessment.) This blended M-Step assessment is the Michigan education department’s response to that law. It will be interesting to see how state legislators respond. Will they think the testing plan reflects what they wanted? And if they don’t, and they decide to up-end the plan, where does that leave schools and districts as testing time draws near?

Below is our testing map, updated as of Nov. 19, including Michigan’s classification as a Smarter Balanced state:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.