MEAP replacement debuts in spring 2014

Student testing will look and feel very different in the 2014-15 school year. That’s when the Smarter Balanced testing kicks in and students will be taking computer adaptive assessments in the spring, instead of the MEAP in the fall.

Test questions will be aligned with the common core State standards and will range from multiple choice to essays. The goal is to have students getting 50 percent of the questions right. That goal supposedly will be met with the new computer adaptive tests because when a student answers a question incorrectly, the next question is easier. But if a student answers a question correctly, the next one is harder.

The tests will measure student progress towards college and career readiness and produce common measurable scores across different states—results the MEAP wasn’t able to provide.

Getting schools ready for computer tests is the biggest challenge. Not all school districts have the technology or the capacity for every student to be taking the test at the same time. Every school will have 12 weeks to administer the test and that may help in the scheduling of computer labs. For the first three years, as schools get ready for the Smarter Balanced testing, there will be a “pencil and paper” version.

The Michigan Department of Education has high hopes for the testing program, expecting it to one day replace the ACT. But for now, the MEAP will still be used for science and social studies testing.

Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) is proposing to help districts pay for the technology needed for the testing by offering state-sponsored technology grants. The problem is that the $75 million he needs for the grants is already budgeted for districts where students score well on the MEAP—the test being replaced.