Testimony on House Bill 4192, State Standards Repeal Bill
Chairman Chatfield and members of the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness:
Several years ago, Michigan began to see growing recognition of troubling trends in our K-12 education system. We faced growing gaps in student proficiency between us and leading education states, far too many high school graduates who are not prepared for the demands of college, career or military service and a significant skills gap.
We found ourselves in a place where our students were not being served well, where parents and community members were being misled on educational quality, and creating major problems in Michigan’s future talent pipeline.
So we decided to do something about it. And we found that we were not alone in these challenges.
Like many states, Michigan reviewed existing academic expectations and found that they were not rigorous. The Michigan State Board of Education ended up adopting a set of model standards that were developed by educators and experts, from Michigan and across the country, in English language arts (ELA) and math. Since their 2010 adoption, Michigan has repeatedly flirted with changing the standards through legislation and the state budget, however, these standards have remained in place.
As with standards in all other subjects, Michigan’s ELA and math standards outline learning expectations by grade and subject – effectively setting the floor for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level. They do not, however, specify how students reach these standards. Decisions such as curriculum, classroom resources, lesson plans, assignments and homework is decided by the district, school or teacher.
Today, we urge you to maintain high academic standards and consistency by voting no on House Bill 4192.
High Standards for the Economy of Today and Tomorrow
We all want Michiganders to be competitive with peers across the country and around the world. By including high academic standards, we are preparing our students to do just that.
Success after high school looks does not mean the same thing for everyone. Michigan’s high academic standards were developed to set a strong baseline for what students need to know and be able to do at the end of each grade and high school. When students meet or exceed this baseline, they should be well prepared for whatever comes next: a skilled trade, a 2- or 4-year degree program, the military or something else. This makes sense, since in the next several years, over 70 percent of Michigan jobs will require post-secondary education.
This means that no matter where they live or what school they attend, Michigan students are learning what they need to know to become successful, prosperous, career- and college-ready adults. These better teaching standards ensure that Michigan most vulnerable students won’t be left behind.
Moving forward, not backward
Learning and teaching to high academic standards is not easy and does not happen overnight. When we set expectations for teaching and learning, we need to provide educators and students the time and space, and provide the support, to reach these new goals.
Unfortunately, over the past few years we have repeatedly changed how we assess student learning and had several debates over learning standards. This has created an atmosphere of churn and sowed uncertainty. Our teachers and students need continuity in the classroom around standards and assessments so that they can stop focusing on where the goals will be set or how they will be assessed, and instead focus fully on learning.
Michigan students should be prepared to succeed in their local community, across our state and nation, and around the world. We will not get there if we keep looking backward and rehashing the debates of yesterday. We took a smart step by moving to high academic standards and should stay on this path.
We urge this committee not to advance House Bill 4192.
Thank you for your consideration.