Testing 1-2-3… More testing? Or no more testing?

Three of my four grand-cmister journalism2hildren are high school-age – 9th, 10th and 11th graders – and as such they completed a week of various standardized tests – for practice – and the “real deal” too. Believe me – it was not something they enjoyed. Our tax dollars at work.

Michigan is one of 14 states that mandates a high-stakes test be taken by all juniors – regardless of their intention (or not) regarding going on to college or university the following year.

Remarkably, the state scores are improving after falling slightly in the first year of the mandate nearly a decade ago, 2007 to be exact. Back then, 65-70% of Michigan high school graduates (those who were or expected to be college-bound, took the ACT and scored at or above the national average.

Parents or guardians or the students themselves paid the testing fees. But after the mandate the State of Michigan’s taxpayers picked up the tab. Since 2007, overall scores are down but only a bit and of late showed a gradual, if only slight increase. More recently the State of Michigan switched, effective this year, from mandating the ACT to mandating the SAT be taken by 100% of high school students – college-bound or not.

Regular education students, or not. Yes, you read that right — special education students take the college admissions test at taxpayer expense.

According to a recent Michigan Radio report, a budget proposal now in the state house would cut funding for free SAT testing. The proposed $10 million cut comes from the House Appropriations Committee.

If passed, schools would no longer provide each student with a college admissions test – students would have to pay to take the test elsewhere.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, chairs the School Aid Subcommittee, and said while eliminating the SAT got the most attention, his real goal is to start a discussion about replacing the M-STEP standardized testing – which the bill also removes.

Kelly is an interesting fellow with a rather remarkable background – non-educator – he moved to Michigan in the 1990s and suddenly became education adviser to then-governor John Engler. Even represented Engler on the State Board of Education. He settled in the Saginaw area, where his children attend Catholic schools and where he coached tennis. Oh, and he serves (or served) on the Saginaw Diocese School Board for many years. Plus, he wound up in the Michigan State House where he advocates for school choice, variants of voucher programs to allow parents to enroll their students in private schools at general taxpayer expense.

So, I find myself agreeing with him about ending the mandatory college admissions testing of all Michigan’s juniors because there’s not much else we’d see eye-to-eye on.

At any rate, Kelly spoke talked with Michigan Radio’s Stateside program recently and you can read and/or listen to the full report at the link here: Proposed budget would cut free SAT, M-STEP tests | Michigan Radio

…until next time, keep reading, sharing, discussing, learning.