Critical factors to consider on assessments

Michigan lawmakers in several committees are considering which assessment to use in Michigan.   They are holding hearings to help make their decision.  The next hearing is February 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM.   The joint committee meeting will be held at the Senate Hearing Room, Ground Floor, Boji Tower, 124 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI.

The decision about which student assessment Michigan will use is critical.  As lawmakers up the ante in consequences for outcomes to students, teachers and schools, “teaching to the test” will necessarily become the predominate emphasis.

In making this decision, lawmakers MUST balance critical and contradictory factors including cost, function, content, timing, access to student results, control and credibility.

COST – What are the short and long term cost implications both to MDE as well as local districts, not only for the test itself, but for the supporting infrastructure.

FUNCTION – Adaptive testing versus traditional fixed question testing.
Online testing versus paper and pencil testing.
Immediate test results or delayed, compiled results

CONTENT – Will we test for knowledge or process?  WIll process trump knowledge in determining proficiency (solving mulitplication probelsm three ways or getting the right answer?)  Will politically charged questions be included?  Will values, morals and beliefs be included?

TIMING – There seems to be a sense of urgency to changing away from the MEAP, why?  What if we take our time in making a transition and watch what other states are doing?
– Are we establishing the once per year state assessment, a twice per yea state assessment? Or the framework for an “on demand” assessment which can be taken/given at any time?

ACCESS TO STUDENT RESULTS – Who will be authorized to access student results?  How would any alternative be able to limit or control access?

CONTROL – If Michigan wants to change the assessment, whether at the questions level, the determination of proficiency, the cut scores, or any of the above factors, how does each alternative provide that control within our state?  Who in Michigan can affect change and by what process?  How can teachers and parents have substantial influence?

CREDIBILITY – Will the results be considered an accurate assessment of proficiency by teachers, parents, the community at large, colleges, businesses, legislators?

We urge lawmakers to take these factors into consideration when they make their decision on assessments.  The MDE prefers SBAC but that test is not acceptable to parents because the assessment  is controlled by a multi-state consortia with federal oversight.

We urge parents and teachers to attend the hearing and urge lawmakers to consider these factors.    Unless parents speak up, special interests and corporate profiteers will determine Michigan assessments.  We cannot afford to let that happen.