USED denies Michigan’s request to waive federal requirement to test students during pandemic

MDE has informed school districts that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not support requiring otherwise remote or virtual students to be brought into school solely for the purpose of state assessment.
MDE has informed school districts that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not support requiring otherwise remote or virtual students to be brought into school solely for the purpose of state assessment.

LANSING, Mich. – The U.S. Department of Education has denied Michigan’s request to waive the federal requirement to administer the state summative assessments, the Michigan Department of Education announced Tuesday.

“With its decision today to deny Michigan’s request to waive M-STEP testing in the midst of the pandemic, USED continues to demonstrate its disconnect from conditions in public schools in Michigan and across the country. Michigan has the highest rates of recent COVID-19 cases and recent cases per 100,000 in the nation at the moment. Our state legislators and governor had the foresight to require districts to administer benchmark assessments in the fall and in the spring of this school year to provide data to educators and parents and to help target resources, interventions, and supports to students in districts. USED even canceled its own assessment—the National Assessment of Educational Progress—in November, an acknowledgement of the pandemic at that time,” said Dr. Rice regarding the denial of the assessment waiver request.

With USED denying Michigan’s request to waive the federal requirement for state summative assessments, local school districts will be expected to administer the state tests as scheduled. These tests include M-STEP for students in grades 3-8; PSAT 8/9 for students in 8th grade; MME, including SAT, for students in 11th grade; MI-ACCESS for students receiving special education services in grades 3-8 and 11; and WIDA for students in English learner programs in grades K-12.

MDE has informed school districts that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not support requiring otherwise remote or virtual students to be brought into school solely for the purpose of state assessment. Districts will have to offer remote or virtual students the opportunity to come into school to take the appropriate state summative assessments. However, those remote-only students will not be required to come into school for the sole purpose of taking the assessments.

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Jennifer Mrozowski, Director of Communications for The Education Trust-Midwest issued the statement below on the USDE’s denial of the MDE’s request to waive the federal requirement to administer the state summative assessments.

“The past year of interrupted learning has been like no other in recent memory. Especially for Michigan’s low-income and other underserved students, we need every tool possible to understand the impact of COVID-19 and how to support them in the near-term and for the next few years to ensure they not only catch up but accelerate.

The U.S. Department of Education today took an important step in ensuring that Michigan parents, educators and policymakers will have critical data to better understand the impact of this unprecedented period of unfinished learning. The student assessment data also will be critical to informing how to invest state and federal dollars equitably so that funding is directed where it’s needed most.

Recognizing that the data will be imperfect, and this will also be a testing year like no other, it makes sense to pause accountability this year. We should take this time to do everything possible to gain the fullest picture of the gaps from pandemic learning so that Michigan can experience a full educational recovery.”


About the Author:

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.