Last week, I wondered if the Michigan Department of Education was rebranding Smarter Balanced (SBAC) as the “new” MEAP. Here’s a brief recap:
Language was added to an appropriations bill (SB 775 and HB 5314) which would require Michigan to use a “new” MEAP for the next two years and then in 2016-17 Michigan must implement a new assessment. The amendment was sponsored by in the Senate by Senator Pavlov (R-St. Clair) and in the House by Rep. Lyons (R-Alto), School Aid Subcommittee Chair Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) and Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw).
At first glance, this may seem like a victory but could it be just another rebranding like Indiana? Is the MDE planning on using the content of SBAC and just calling it the “new” MEAP to meet the requirements of this amendment?
MIRS News asked MDE spokesman, Martin Ackley if the SBAC could be used and just call it MEAP? Ackley said,
“That remains to be seen. I thought that there were some representatives, some legislators, who were very clear in their floor statements what they would not want it to be, but we’ll wait and see what the final outcome is.”
The fact that Ackely did not rule it out is very troubling. We should not wait until the “final outcome” to find out what test Michigan students will be taking next year. State superintendent Flanagan reiterated his support for SBAC which has been in the works for three years and added,
“It will for sure pass the federal muster on the waiver. Everything else may or may not. So it’s a big gamble. But I’m not taking the gamble. They would be taking the gamble. “
Michigan law states that the public schools work in cooperation with the parents but the MDE appears to cooperate only with the feds. Michigan parents to do not want SBAC but the MDE does not seem concerned at all about them. Flanagan appears to give sole consideration to losing a federal waiver and keeping Arne Duncan happy.
Flanagan may not be willing to gamble on losing a federal waiver but are state lawmakers willing to gamble on losing their re-election over this issue? Common Core and assessments are the litmus test issue for many parents who do not want to cede control of education to the federal government. They are watching this closely and will not tolerate lawmakers who slip in SBAC under the guise of MEAP.
Contact your state lawmakers and tell them you are watching the budget vote closely. Tell them you do not want SBAC or the federal government controlling our assessments. Michigan must retain control of our assessments.
Update July 22: The budget passed and rebranding is a strong possibility. The MDE is asking for feedback on the future of assessments. Make your voice heard DETAILS HERE.