Newsroom

Latest news releases and President's column.

Cook: Overtesting isn’t good for anybody

Teaching versus testing. That’s what it comes down to.

In April, school districts began testing students across the state on the new Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) standardized test. A few days later, I asked some of our teachers how that was going. Their reply, in a word: dreadful.

The primary complaint: this new test is stealing time from instruction and the curriculum. Testing began April 1 and continues through the week of June 1. Combine this with the Northwest Evaluation Assessment testing in the fall, winter and spring and it is no wonder parents as well as teachers are rebelling against additional testing.

Teachers report that the M-STEP test is taking much more time than projected. In many cases an entire school day is spent on the test and still students were unable to complete it. They were then “locked out” for failing to adhere to the original directive from the Department of Education that the test be completed on the same day it was begun. After being deluged with complaints, the department changed their directive and now allows the test to be completed on another day. That’s another day spent testing, not teaching.

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Cook: Pass Prop 1, fix Michigan’s roads

“Michigan’s road quality is among the worst in the nation,” according to a study done by the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group.

MEA urges postponement in using M-STEP results because of testing problems

EAST LANSING, Mich., April 21, 2015 — In an open letter to Gov. Snyder and state education stakeholders, MEA President Steve Cook is asking that data from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) not be used this year in teacher evaluations, district rankings, or for any other purposes. The letter details numerous problems associated with the test, which is now in its second week of implementation in school districts across the state.

Cook said, “After just five days, we’re hearing loud and clear from our members just some of the many problems associated with M-STEP. It’s impossible to believe that this test could be an accurate measure of student growth. We can’t use unreliable data to judge teachers and school districts.”

The letter points out that M-STEP is taking huge amounts of time away from classroom instruction and curriculum. In some cases, a whole school day is absorbed with testing, when only a few hours were scheduled. Teachers reported that students are not finishing the test and were “locked out” of completing the test later.

Since M-STEP is an online test, computers and computer labs are unavailable to other students and classes to do their work. In many schools, computer labs are in school libraries which are now off limits during the testing period.

In too many cases, a school district’s infrastructure isn’t able to provide the technology needed for administration of M-STEP. A middle school test coordinator spent the first days of the testing window working with computers locking up or crashing; insufficient server capacity, equipment failures, and software issues. “It seemed M-STEP became an assessment of a student’s ability to manipulate the technology, and less a test of what a student learned.”

Cook: Don’t trust Michigan pols? Vote yes on Prop 1

The ice has melted and the roads are worse.

Michigan’s deteriorating roads and bridges pose a serious safety threat to drivers. Crater-size potholes are responsible for extensive damage to our automobiles.

Cook: Vote yes on Prop 1, fix our roads

If you believe our schools and safer roads are important to the quality of life in Michigan, circle May 5 on your calendar. On that day, voters will be asked to vote on a proposal that would raise over $1 billion to repair Michigan’s dangerous roads and bridges, while raising $300 million in new revenue for Michigan public schools, funded by a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax.

Cook: End Michigan’s charter school experiment already

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

The hole I am referring to is the $1 billion taxpayers spend each year on Michigan’s experiment with charter schools. A recent report by a pro charter school group ranks Michigan’s charter school accountability law last among similar states. 

Cook: End Michigan’s charter school experiment already

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

The hole I am referring to is the $1 billion taxpayers spend each year on Michigan’s experiment with charter schools. A recent report by a pro charter school group ranks Michigan’s charter school accountability law last among similar states. 

Cook: End Michigan’s charter school experiment already

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

The hole I am referring to is the $1 billion taxpayers spend each year on Michigan’s experiment with charter schools. 

President Steven Cook in the Detroit News: Be, see the good in the world

“Believe there is good in the world.”

That is the motto of Yale Education Association as teachers in this small district in St. Clair County seek to fulfill Gandhi’s dream and “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Their goal: raise $50,000 to build a home for a family in need in their community. Yale teachers have recruited students and community members in their mission and are partnering with the Blue Water Habitat for Humanity to achieve their goal.

The Heartlands Institute of Technology is a career tech center run by the Ionia Intermediate School District.

Students not only get hands-on experience in a number of fields, but are able to give back to the community as well; in the Dental Occupations program they use that experience to help provide free dental care to patients who lack insurance. Teachers set up the program, recruit dentists to provide free services and teach students the necessary skills to assist with the procedures.

These are just a few examples of school employees across the state going above and beyond to improve the learning experiences of their students, the communities they live and work in and, along the way, teach lessons that can’t be taught with a textbook or a computer. These efforts won’t show up on student standardized test scores or teacher evaluation forms, but they are essential lessons nonetheless.

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Statement correcting misinformation in Detroit News about MEA exec as a potential State Superintendent

EAST LANSING, Mich., Feb. 26, 2013 — The following statement can be attributed to MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz in response to a Detroit News column this morning listing her as a potential candidate as Michigan’s next State Superintendent of Public Instruction:

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