Broad coalition urges Legislature to move forward with state student, assessment plan
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representing the Grand Rapids and Detroit regions – urges the Legislature to fund a statewide replacement for the outdated Michigan Education Assessment Program, recommending using the Smarter Balanced test alongside the current ACT college entrance exam now used in the 11th grade.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
Huron Intermediate School District
Ionia County Intermediate School District
Lewis Case Intermediate School District
Livingston Educational Service Agency
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 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
St. Joseph Intermediate School District
The Education Trust-Midwest
Tuscola Intermediate School District
Van Buren Intermediate School District
Washtenaw Intermediate School District