New Assessment Scores Show Need for Michigan to Remain on Track with M-STEP
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Aug. 30, 2016) – New results from the Michigan Student Test for Educational Progress (M-STEP) emphasize how critical it is for Michigan to continue providing honest and transparent data on student learning and school performance, according to Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.
Continuing to use a high-quality end-of-year assessment is essential to providing reliable information that can help improve classroom instruction, accelerate progress for students and make Michigan a top ten education state, she said.
“The good news is that Michigan students and teachers are rising to the challenge of taking this more rigorous assessment,” Arellano said. “Unfortunately, the Michigan Department of Education is sending mixed signals to students, parents and educators, as they flirt with the idea of moving to a different state standardized test. Students and teachers need stability and everyone – especially parents and policy makers – deserves honest and reliable data. Changing tests again would put our schools into greater turmoil and prevent transparency for years.”
M-STEP scores will likely improve over the next few years, based on the experience of other states that have introduced more rigorous assessments, as students and teachers become more familiar with and are better supported on Michigan’s higher academic expectations.
“After asking them to do much more in recent years, our students, teachers and schools now need stability and certainty so that they can continue to transition to this new assessment,” Arellano said.
According to the 2016 M-STEP data:
- Overall, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced statewide in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics remained largely the same as 2015 for grades 3-8. In ELA, 47.3 percent of students were proficient statewide in 2016, compared to 47.8 percent in 2015. For math, 37.3 percent of students were proficient in 2016, compared to 37 percent in 2015. This general stagnation shows that Michigan still has a long road ahead to ensure more students are prepared for college and career.
- In fourth-grade math, proficiency rates improved by almost three percentage points since 2015. At the same time, third-grade ELA proficiency rates dropped by about four-percentage points. Given that early literacy is a key predictor for a student’s future academic success, the state must continue its commitment to reading improvement.
- For students of color and low-income students, proficiency rates still remain devastatingly low. For instance, just 31.1 percent of low-income students were proficient in third grade ELA and just 16.7 percent were proficient in eighth-grade math. Only about one-third of Hispanic students were proficient in eighth-grade reading. Among African American students in eighth-grade math, proficiency rates stayed about the same, moving from 9.7 percent proficient in 2015 to 9.9 percent proficient in 2016.
“Getting Michigan’s assessment right and committing to having honest, transparent and comparable data is absolutely essential for educational improvement,” said Suneet Bedi, data and policy analyst at The Education Trust-Midwest. “After years of falling further behind the rest of the nation on key indicators like fourth-grade reading, Michigan families need and deserve annual reporting on how our state’s public schools are performing compared to schools in other states. While Michigan has the ability to do this, the state is not doing it. This needs to change.”
Last year, The Education Trust-Midwest launched Michigan Achieves, a campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students. Our most recent report, Michigan’s Talent Crisis: The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan’s Broken Public Education System, highlights the urgent crisis in Michigan’s underperforming public education system.
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The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM) is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially African American, Latino, American Indian and low-income students. ETM believes in the power of intelligent education policies and practices – informed by data, research, and the successes of other states – to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.