LANSING (AP) – Delays that sent standardized test scores to schools three months late and concerns about newly released school report cards are raising questions about the future of the state’s standardized testing program.

The Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests originally were designed to help schools determine where they were not doing a good enough job teaching students the basics in math, science, reading, writing and social studies.

But many now say the purpose of the tests has been lost. Tough federal guidelines now use scores on standardized tests to measure the progress of every student. Schools whose students do poorly don’t just learn what they should be doing better, but can be forced to replace staff or turn over control to the state.

“The question has got to be what do we want this type of test to do for us,” said Bert Bleke, superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools. “The original purpose was to aid instruction. I don’t think that’s happening much anymore.”

The answer may force changes in the MEAP and in attitudes about standardized tests.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools that don’t show progress on the tests face punishments that range from allowing students to transfer to state takeover. The more years a school doesn’t meet the requirements, the tougher the penalties.

Michigan law also requires school accreditation. Schools just got their first report cards through the Education YES! program. It assigns an overall letter grade based largely on test performance and student progress data.

The goal is to give parents, educators and others a way to measure whether schools are getting better and to see which schools are doing the best job.

But many school administrators aren’t happy with the way scores are being used.

Greg Baracy, superintendent of Wayne-Westland Community Schools, said putting so much emphasis on tests isn’t right. “Not everyone responds to a rote test,” Baracy said.

“If the student’s had a bad day … it’s going to affect the outcome on that one day, that one given test.”

Baracy said the MEAP isn’t the right fit for No Child Left Behind requirements because it’s a tougher test than many states are requiring their students to take.

 

 

 

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