Press Release

Contact info:

Amy Morris or David Waymire


 Business groups join with K-12, higher education organizations in letter supporting Smarter Balanced assessment system

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (April 28, 2014)  — A letter to lawmakers signed by a wide-ranging variety of organizations – including Business Leaders for Michigan and the chambers of commerce representing the Grand Rapids and Detroit regions – urges the Legislature to fund a statewide replacement for the outdated Michigan Education Assessment Program, recommending using the Smarter Balanced test alongside the current ACT college entrance exam now used in the 11th grade.

The letter notes a recent Education Trust-Midwest report showing Michigan has actually regressed in its student performance compared to other states in certain areas. “We must change this trajectory for our state’s future – and our students’ futures,” the letter says, by putting in place strong standards and then testing to see they are met by students and educators.

It applauds the recent action by the Legislature to put in place the Common Core standards “for what our students should know and be able to do at every grade level, based on the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and careers.”

It goes on to say, “The Smarter Balanced assessment system will measure students’ progress on these standards, like problem solving and creative thinking, like no other assessment option can.”

“The proposed assessment plan was shaped by Michigan experts to reflect Michigan’s priorities and to work for all Michigan kids. It will raise the level of teaching and learning in our state…” the letter says.

The letter was intended to allow “lawmakers to know that there is widespread support for the state’s current plans to use the Smarter Balanced test to ensure Michigan is properly assessing the new standards adopted by the Legislature.

Tim Sowton, vice president, government affairs & public policy for Business Leaders for Michigan, said “Business leaders around the state know from experience that the best way to improve performance is to set high standards, then assesses whether the organization is meeting those standards. Without proper assessment, measuring progress is not possible.”

“Taking a step back to the MEAP is not a viable option,” said Detroit Regional Chamber CEO and President Sandy Baruah. “The Smarter Balanced test is a far better tool to evaluate our students’ performance in an increasingly demanding and competitive 21st Century global marketplace.”

Schools around the state have already been implementing the Common Core standards, and some are testing the Smarter Balanced assessments this spring. That has been the plan for several years, since the state used its standard procurement process to determine which assessment should be used.

A consistent statewide test is also vital to identify successful teachers and help others improve their skills by providing more helpful diagnostic information. A consistent assessment system is an important tool to hold teachers accountable while showing them the keys to better performance.

“We know successful states , are putting in place high standards, then implementing aligned assessments that allow student and teacher performance to be measured in a consistent way,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “We are pleased to see such an extensive group of supporters joining to recommend the Legislature to move ahead now on the Smarter Balanced assessment for 2014-15.”

Among those joining together to sign the letter are:

Allegan Area ESA

Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District

Business Leaders for Michigan

Clinton County RESA

Michigan Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

ESA Legislative Group

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan

Genesee Intermediate School District

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Gratiot-Isabella RESD

Huron Intermediate School District

Ionia County Intermediate School District

Lewis Case Intermediate School District

Livingston Educational Service Agency

Michigan ASCD

Michigan Assessment Consortium

Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators

Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation

Michigan Association of School Administrators

Michigan College Access Network

Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association

Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society

Michigan PTA

Michigan Small and Rural Schools

Mission: Readiness Michigan

Montcalm Area Intermediate School District

Newaygo County RESA

President’s Council, State Universities of Michigan

ReadyNation/America’s Edge Michigan

Saginaw Intermediate School District

School Equity Caucus

Shiawassee RESD

St. Joseph Intermediate School District

The Education Trust-Midwest

Tuscola Intermediate School District

Van Buren Intermediate School District

Washtenaw Intermediate School District