Tuesday, April 14, 2015

M-STEP and opting out

Michigan has a new standardized test this year--the M-STEP.  There is a lot to be said about standardized testing and the high-stakes associated with it.  We hope to talk to you more about that in the future.  For now, since M-STEP testing is nearly upon us in Okemos, we thought we would share the option of opting out.

Your children are not required to take the M-STEP test if you opt them out of it.  In theory, the federal No Child Left Behind Law threatens consequences for schools where less than 95 percent of kids take a standardized test.  However, changes to the law have essentially made that requirement irrelevant.  Fairtest.org, Sept. 15, 2014.

Across the country, parents are increasingly opting their kids out of the test in numbers far greater than five percent.  In New York, last year more than 60,000 kids opted out of the test, and that number is expected to grow this year. The Buffalo News, April 14, 2015.  In West Seneca near Buffalo, 2,074 of 2,976 eligible students refused testing.  Id.  In another district, 1,534 of 2,740 eligible students opted out.  WGRZ.com, April 11, 2015.  Here in Michigan, some parents are opting out in Grand Ledge.  WILX.com, April 14, 2015.  Further, some parents are opting out here in Okemos.  In particular, Michigan State University Professor Mitchell Robinson, who has written on this blog before, and his wife opted their children out.  He wrote on his blog about the ease of opting out and the painless response from the district:

Having read and heard about much more hostile responses from schools around the country to similar requests, we were both relieved and encouraged by our school's reply. Not only was our request for our child to opt out greeted with respect, but provisions for our son's attendance on those days when the test was scheduled were provided without argument or hassle. The approach was understanding, positive and student-centered--everything we have come to expect from our school district.
I also believe that this response is an indication of a tipping point of sorts when it comes to the issue of opting out and school testing. More and more, teachers and administrators are understanding the negative impact of these tests on students, teachers and schools, and are joining the fight with parents and other groups advocating for a reduction in the number and uses of these tests. [wwwmitchellrobinson.net, March 25, 2015.]

It's worth noting that the M-STEP is considerably different from the MEAP you took as a child.  The test is taken on computers, and the questions are of a very different format and content.  You can see sample questions here: Michigan Department of Education.

If you choose to opt out, you should be able to accomplish it with a phone call or letter to your school.  Sample letters can be found  at United Opt Out Michigan.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Brett for sharing this information. People should definitely take a look at the sample questions to get a sense of how ridiculous (and in the younger grades, age-inappropriate) this test is.

    And I also think it is important to think about this test in the context of how much OTHER testing is going on in the schools; and WHAT we are using these tests for. In particular, the MSTEP is going to be used (eventually) to evaluate teachers and schools, not students. But it takes away from our students' time learning...

    I have several posts on my blog about the MSTEP, a2schoolsmuse.blogspot.com.