Timeline: Higher Learning Standards for Michigan Students


  • The Michigan Merit Curriculum is signed into law, defining a common set of required credits for graduation and providing educators with a common understanding of what students should know and be able to do for credit. Previously, the state had only required one semester of civics for high school graduation.
  • A major U.S. education task force consisting of leaders from the education, business, policy, and nonprofit sectors is established to support accurate expectations for a reliable measurement of student achievement. The task force, in which Michigan teachers and education experts play a leading role, is charged with recommending strategies for ensuring the U.S. education system produces globally competitive talent.


  • Michigan finalizes K–12 content expectations in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, as well the visual and performing arts, physical education/health, and world languages.
  • The task force issues a report showing that American students are falling behind their peers in other countries. The panel recommends actions to strengthen educational outcomes, one of which is the adoption of internationally benchmarked standards in math and English language arts.


  • Michigan’s governor signs on to a policy statement putting state leaders in charge of a national effort to establish standards defining what students should know.
  • Michigan’s governor and state superintendent meet with their U.S. counterparts in Chicago, IL and commence work on a new standards initiative. Over the next 18 months, they work to craft, refine and review standards. Two public comment periods generate nearly 10,000 responses from teachers, parents, school administrators, and other citizens.


  • The final standards are released. The Michigan State Board of Education adopts the new standards in June. Local districts begin working to implement the standards, with full statewide implementation targeted for the 2013–14 school year.
  • The Michigan Department of Education establishes six workgroups and commences broad implementation efforts alongside each of 57 intermediate school districts, dozens of associations, university leaders, and teacher and parent groups.


  • The Michigan Legislature acts to “pause” the new standards by cutting funding for implementation in June, but restores necessary support in October. Michigan schools, ISDs, universities, teachers, and parents resume and continue their implementation work.


  • The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M–STEP) is introduced to replace the state’s 44-year-old MEAP test. The new assessment, which is aligned to the stronger Michigan standards, will provide parents, teachers, and communities with reliable information about student performance results.


  • First administration of the M-STEP in Spring 2015 goes well, with few administrative problems, which were quickly resolved. Based on feedback from parents, students, teachers and administrators, changes are announced to significantly shorten assessment length.