Is the MDE Cheating on M-STEP?

Before Michigan students sit down before their computers to take the “new” M-STEP assessment, officials at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) must sit down before state lawmakers and answer a few challenging questions of their own.

The Michigan budget signed last year was fairly clear that there would be no funding for a transition to  Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC).  But apparently the MDE spent the money on SBAC anyway.   The MDE is spending  $4.9 million in a membership fee to the Smarter Balanced Consortia to  get the privilege of using SBAC  questions

“State Education Department spokesman Bill DiSessa says paying the fee allows Michigan to include Smarter Balanced test items in the new M-STEP tests that are replacing the 44-year-old MEAP tests this spring.”

This is absurd! The state budget said no funding for SBAC and the MDE turns around and spends $4.9 million in membership fees that includes the questions.  Then the MDE  created a “new” test, stuffed it with the SBAC questions, and called it M-Step.   Is the legislature going to let them get away with this?

Alleged cheating on the budget restrictions is serious enough but in this case the SBAC membership with fees  could also be “illegal.”   The Washington Post reports,

A Missouri judge said the state’s membership in a federally funded testing consortium charged with creating an assessment aligned with the Common Core standards is illegal. And what’s more, he ruled that the state should stop paying fees to the group, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

If it’s illegal in Missouri then  it is possible there  are illegalities in Michigan as well.  The MDE must explain what’s going on  and be held accountable to state lawmakers and families all across the state who are currently stressing over the M-STEP.

Kids are being threatened with suspensions if their parents don’t show up for a mandatory MSTEP meeting in Detroit.  State lawmakers should suspend the pay of MDE officials until they show up before a Joint House and Senate Education Committee for a mandatory M-STEP meeting in Lansing.

Contact Senator Phil Pavlov  (517) 373-7708 and  Representative Amanda Price  517-373-0838  and ask them when they plan to schedule the hearings because you want to be there to hear the MDE answer.

Parents, if lawmakers refuse to take action in Lansing and investigate the alleged cheating and illegalities then tell your students to refuse to answer questions on the M-STEP. 

Opt out and Refuse the Test. 

The  Thomas More Law Center has provided forms here…

Student Privacy Protection Opt-Out Form – Thomas More …