Press Release

New college- and career-ready assessment system promises more reliable and honest information and improved teacher support, plus less testing for many districts

ROYAL OAK, MI (November 13, 2014) – After more than 40 years of the multiple choice-style MEAP test, Michigan is upgrading to a new generation of student learning assessments. Today, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released more information to parents, teachers and school administrators about the statewide assessment system that students will take this spring.

State leaders announced details about the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, which will transition Michigan from an antiquated MEAP assessment to a system that provides Michigan families with more reliable information about school performance, plus greater school accountability and academic rigor — all of which are needed today to ensure all Michigan students leave high school career- and college-ready.

“We know from leading education states that the path to a brighter educational future for all of our students begins with raising educational standards and implementing an aligned assessment,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “The announcement today shows that Michigan is taking steps toward preparing all of our children to be ready to succeed after graduation.”

“However, this is only the first step,” Arellano said. “We need to do more to support our teachers to teach at higher levels, and ensure none of our students are left behind in a more rigorous academic world. It’s a matter of our economic competitiveness. We also need to do more to support districts’ transition to new assessments, to avoid potential over-testing that has become common in some districts due to the deficiencies of the MEAP.”

According to information released today, M-STEP will include several types of questions, requiring students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This will also give parents and educators better feedback about student learning.

“With a better statewide assessment, given at the end of the school year, many local tests will no longer be needed,” added Sarah Lenhoff, director of policy and research at The Education Trust-Midwest. “Our new system should actually reduce testing in many communities over time.”

The transition to higher learning standards and a more rigorous assessment will take time. As demonstrated in other states – including Kentucky and Massachusetts, which have both seen strong educational progress – students, parents and teachers need two to three years to adjust to a new type of assessment and higher expectations for teaching and learning. In the third and subsequent years, student performance dramatically increased in those states.

In June 2014, the Michigan Legislature required the MDE to replace the outdated MEAP for the 2014-15 school year. The new assessment must be aligned with Michigan Standards – the state’s learning benchmarks for each subject area in each grade level — and will be taken at the end of the school year.

The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) is currently reviewing proposals for an assessment system that will being next school year. An announcement on the selection of a new assessment vendor is expected next year.


The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan’s only statewide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan. We provide data-driven information and expertise to our state’s families, educators and policy and civic leaders about how to close our achievement gaps.