Is the M-Step test hurting your kids?

Posted at 8:21 PM, Apr 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 22:24:48-04

If you have a kid in public schools - you know. They have been spending hours taking the state's M-Step test in recent weeks.

The superintendent of one of the most highly ranked school district’s in the state, says the test is out of control. The biggest complaint is how much time it takes.

“It consumes, as a district, at least 8 weeks of our time,” said Rob Glass, Superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools.

The testing happens to kids in second through eleventh grade. Depending on their grade, kids spend four to eight grueling hours on a computer - testing.

Classes are interrupted for much longer, because in high school kids of different grades have classes together.

Another complaint is the state’s system can’t handle the online testing.

It also consumes the local school’s IT system.

The test takes up an enormous amount of bandwidth. As a result, during those 8 weeks internet service is shut down to kids who are not taking the test in Bloomfield Hills Schools.

In many cases the internet crashes as kids take the test. When that happens, testing can eat up even more hours of potential class time.

Taking a look at the third grade class at one Bloomfield Hills Elementary School this week, only eleven out of ninety-five students completed the test. On Monday, eight students were bumped off-line. On Tuesday, everyone was bumped off-line mid test.

Now the school will have to offer extended sessions so kids can make up for that.

Then there is the big question. What is the point?

“The whole model of school reform in this country has been based on the notion of standards and accountability. Basically you have high standards, and you have to test. You have to give the same test to everyone to compare and that is how schools get better. That is the premise. I believe it is a false premise. It doesn’t seem to be working at all,” said Rob Glass, Superintendent Bloomfield Hills Schools.

“What it does is it causes teachers to stifle innovation, teach to the test, and stops the kind of instruction we need across the district for a good 8 weeks so we can have these tests,” said Glass.

You might ask, since many teachers work at schools with leaders opposed to the test, why would it impact a teacher’s actions in the classrooms.

“The model that the State and Federal policy makers have adopted over the years says keep the good teachers, get rid of the bad teachers,” explains Glass.  “And under this model, how do we know who is bad? Get rid of the ones not doing well at this test. It is a flawed design.”

So who is for the M-Step test?  School leaders joked- the people who sell it.

The Michigan Department of Education is under the leadership of a relatively new State Superintendent of Schools named Brian Whiston. He also wants a different way testing.

"He is developing recommendations to coordinate testing for the state and local districts that will further reduce the overall testing time for Michigan students. Many school districts in Michigan currently give tests in the fall and spring to measure growth through the year. Whiston is working to align these with the required state assessment and provide this information for all schools, educators, and parents,” said Bill DiSessa, of the Michigan Department of Educations Office of Public and Governmental Affairs.

“I think kids could learn a lot more if they didn’t have to take this test. We are measuring the elephant a lot, but we’re not feeding it,” said Bill Boyle, the Director of the Model Center in Bloomfield Hills Schools.