State Reduces Length of M-STEP Testing For Michigan Schools

"The changes they’ve made have been an improvement."

Many parents and teachers… breathing that sigh of relief.

With the state’s help, your child will see shorter end-of-school testing this year.

Last year, Michigan schools were handed a new common core test called M-STEP.

The test that replaced the MEAP.

While it introduced a new way for students to take standardized tests, many said it had problems.

The tests were long and some say it disrupted class time.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Jeff Blakeman took a closer look at the changes that aim to fix that … speaking with parents and schools for their input.

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When the M-STEP was introduced in 2014, some teachers and administrators immediately brought up issues.

The tests were too long, they took away class time and some kids lost focus.

As of yesterday, the state listened to their concerns … and responded.

"As a parent, I’m concerned that things that should be taught in class are being overstepped," says Robin Sims, a parent who is very active with Cadillac Area Public Schools (CAPS).

Robin Sims has three daughters in school.

She says the M-STEP threw them all a curveball last year.

"It takes way too long for the new testing so overall, the kids have found they are spending more times in computer labs than working with a teacher," Sims says.

Robin wasn’t alone.

CAPS superintendent Jennifer Brown and many others shared her concerns.

"Teachers, leaders, principals, superintendents were really concerned about the lack of instructional time that was available in the spring because of how much time it took to get through the M-STEP test," Brown says.

The state surveyed more than 26,000 students, nearly 6,000 parents and many schools.

The results convinced the state to do something.

"They’ve paired back the assessments so they can make sure the assessment-timing is less impacting on instructional time so we aren’t losing so much instructional time testing," Brown says.

Jennifer Sück, principal of Mackinaw Trails Middle School in Wexford County, says the first wave of M-STEP test forms had students using up hours of class time to complete.

“It didn’t only affect the taking for the kids and the fatigue, but also the instructional time," Sück says. "It meant possibly disrupting the routine of their regular instructional time.”

So when Robin’s daughters go back to school, they can expect two things: more time learning, less time testing.

The Michigan Department of Education removed some essay portions from English, language arts and math from the test.

That reduces up to 8 hours of testing for 11th graders, alone.