Don’t throw away your MEAP test instruction book just yet

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has asked for a one-year extension on its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver from the federal government so it can meet some of the act’s components. 

At issue is the possible continued use of the MEAP.

The state faces a looming deadline this fall to have an appropriate student growth assessment in place before school starts in order to meet NCLB. MDE already agreed to use the Smarter Balanced test that aligns with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS); the assessment is currently being field-tested. The Legislature, however, is not sold on the test and both the House and Senate have inserted language in their education funding bills to continue MEAP testing for at least two more years, even though the MEAP is not considered an effective measure of student growth and does not align with CCSS. In two years, the Legislature plans on having a valid assessment that has been thoroughly vetted.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, along with some education and business leaders, are remaining adamant that the MEAP is not an option. Instead, they fully support Smarter Balanced as a better tool. Michigan is one of the 23 states in the Smarter Balanced Consortium that planned on using the test.

MDE’s extension request also impacts the implementation of a statewide teacher evaluation system. The U.S. Department of Education’s response to the request on this issue adds to the problem. At one time, they indicated that as long as a statewide teacher evaluation is in place before school starts, Michigan would not lose its waiver. But since HB 5223 addressing evaluations is only in the House, with concurrence still needed by the Senate, the Department is cautious about approving the waiver request. Bill sponsors, Reps. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) are confident legislation will be passed in time for the Department’s deadline.

Last month, Washington State lost its waiver request for failing to enact an evaluation system.