MI educators push for more inclusive standardized test

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Some educators in Michigan are pushing for the state’s standardized test, the M-STEP, to be canceled this year because of the pandemic.

It’s also causing them to take a closer look at the test itself with some saying it wasn’t good enough to begin with. 

Educators with Godfrey Lee Public Schools say the M-STEP isn’t equitable toward students of color. They say whether the test is taken this year or not, it needs to be changed to better serve all students.

“Normal wasn’t good. Normal was disproportionate towards students of color and students of poverty, so why would we want to go back to that?” said Kevin Polston, the superintendent of Godfrey Lee Public Schools.

“It’s a structural and systemic issue that has plagued our country for, since the founding,” said Alex Kuiper, a fourth and fifth grade virtual teacher for Godfrey Lee Public Schools. “Sadly are a better indicator of what zip code a child lives in than what their actual academic knowledge is.”

“This came from a more urban area in New York and the question was, which is the most likely means of a student getting to school? And the choices were car, train, or airplane, and the student chose train because that’s how the student got to school, and the standardized test marked it wrong,” said Polston.

The Michigan Department of Education sent News 8 a statement about this issue, saying in part:

“While the MDE always seeks ways to improve the M-STEP, it is based on educator-developed standards with content reviewed for bias and sensitivity issues by an educator review committee. This panel is a diverse mix of gender, race/ethnicity, and state geography.”

Moving forward, Kuiper wants other teachers to not take standardized tests so seriously and to judge their students based on the full picture.

“At the end of the day, I want them to be good citizens of our world. I want them to grow up and be able to change the world that they live in and those are skills that can’t be measured on a standardized test,” said Kuiper.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Education also say they plan to re-submit their assessment waiver request later this month to the U.S. Department of Education.

If approved, no students will have to take the M-STEP this school year.