MCHSS Testimony on SB 826

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today in opposition to Senate Bill 826.

In addition to speaking to the views of each of our respective organizations, we are also testifying on behalf of the Michigan Coalition for High Student Standards. This coalition is a statewide partnership of education and business leaders, parents, teachers, principals and military families, committed to maintaining clear and rigorous academic standards for all Michigan students.

Michigan’s High Standards and Rigorous Assessment Set a New Baseline and Course for Improvement

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Oct. 27, 2015) – Statewide student scores on Michigan’s new, more rigorous assessment of student learning, show that Michigan is moving in the right direction. By adopting higher learning standards for our students in 2010 and now measuring student progress through a rigorous assessment, Michigan is taking important steps forward to becoming a top ten education state.

Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, reflected on the importance of raising the academic bar for Michigan students. “As a state, we will not be able to compete in the flat, global 21st Century dynamic marketplace if we don’t have, and achieve, the highest academic standards,” Baruah said. “The discussion should not be maintaining high standards, but rather how can we raise our standards.”

“A strategy that begins with high expectations and is matched by high standards, and an accurate measurement of where each child stands will help our student succeed in school and life,” said Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “We must do all that we can to make sure that Michigan students are equipped for success in college and careers.”

“As expected, scores on the new test are lower than they were on the old test. This is a reflection of a more challenging and accurate assessment of where our students are, and a normal part of the transition for students, parents, and teachers, as they transition to a different type of assessment. This is an important opportunity to improve teaching and learning in Michigan” said Kathy Dewsbury-White, CEO of the Michigan Assessment Consortium.

Last year, Michigan retired the 44-year-old MEAP test and administered a new assessment, the Michigan Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). The new assessment measures our current state standards and measures real-world learning skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, and deep comprehension.

Recognizing that further improvements are needed, the Michigan Department of Education has also announced significant reductions in test times for spring 2016, and ensured that all Michigan students have access to the PSAT and SAT – commonly used for community college and college admissions.

“The switch to the PSAT and SAT has been a major shift for schools across the state, but it has allowed Michigan to greatly reduce testing time for our eleventh graders.” Said Wendy Zdeb-Roper, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. “It is important that Michigan continues to give all juniors access to a free college entrance exam so they can be prepared for their next educational step. By adding the PSAT to the mix for lower grade levels and giving students access to the Khan Academy, we’re hoping that the quality and availability of data will only continue to improve for our schools, while making sure that students are getting the help they need to do their very best.”

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The Michigan Coalition for High Student Standards is a statewide partnership of education and business leaders, parents, teachers, principals and military families, dedicated to Michigan’s transition to career- and college-ready standards, ensuring high expectations and rigorous academic standards for all Michigan students.

My Kindergarteners Are Inspired, Not Stifled by Common Core

By Catherine Cushard, Education Post

It’s often said by critics that Common Core State Standards are too tough for our youngest learners, and that the play and experimentation time in schools will be lost. The reality is that the Common Core inspires critical thinking and problem solving, and these necessary skills can be developed even in our youngest learners.