Educators and legislator have greeted Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s
executive order regarding the Michigan Education Assessment Program
earlier this week with praise and skepticism.

Granholm’s decision to transfer authority over the MEAP back to
the Department of Education effectively cancelled a move by former
Republican Gov. John Engler, who switched the test to the
Department of Treasury during his term. Before that, the Department
of Education had controlled the MEAP since the 1970s.

“Educating our kids is the highest priority, and placing
responsibility for MEAP with the Department of Education is in line
with that goal,” Granholm said in a written statement.

Executive Order 2003-20, announced Monday, will take effect Dec.
21 unless rejected by the Legislature and also utilizes the
Department of Information and Technology to administer the test.
Granholm said she hopes that by facilitating the tests within the
state government, delays in scoring – such as the ones that
occurred this year – will be avoided in the future.

Rep. Doug Hart (R-Rockford) said the move “makes absolute
sense.” Hart is a member of the House Education and Higher
Education committees.

“You have an organization that’s used to working with schools
and is already dealing with schools in the state on a variety of
levels and issues,” he said.

Hart added that the switch will not adversely impact the
operation of the Michigan Merit Award.

The Michigan Merit Award was instituted in 2000 and gives
Michigan students a $2,500 scholarship if they receive scores of
one or two on the MEAP test. Despite the Department of Education’s
renewed power over the test itself, the Merit Award Board, which
deals with the scholarship and its qualifications, will remain
within the Department of Treasury.

Education senior Jenny Farber said she hopes the switch will
improve the collaboration between curriculum and the MEAP test.

“This is a positive change and it might help make the MEAP a
better tool for assessment than the MEAP that is already in place,”
she said.

Education Prof. Dirck Roosevelt said that the change “is long
overdue,” and that it highlights a very political issue in the

“It would seem to me that the governor is casting at least a
tentative vote in favor of education as a professional field,” he
said. “People who dedicate their lives to teaching and children
should be given the responsibility with their assessment.”

Yet another challenge to the MEAP test, however, is the
governor’s announcement that she will consider replacing MEAP with
the American College Test Assessment currently taken by many
college-bound students.

Although a change in the assessment test is only speculative,
state legislators and education professionals are already
discussing its potential implications. Karen Todorov, head of
social studies in the Department of Education, said that replacing
the MEAP with the ACT would be unfortunate.

“It would be a move towards 1950s racism and classism,” she
said. Schools “are not going to encourage marginally prepared
students to take the test, and they will make those decisions as
they always have, based on who they think will succeed.”

Hart acknowledged that there are advantages and disadvantages to
the MEAP test, and said he is “open to discussion” about a switch.
“A lot of people feel (MEAP) has restricted teachers’ abilities to
do what they’ve always done positively in classrooms,” he said.

“But there is also the argument that we don’t need a cognitive
based test, and (for students) to compare themselves with over a
million peers nationally may be even more helpful for gaining a
sense of how they’re doing.”

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