2021 Michigan M-STEP results: Test scores decline sharply during pandemic

Department of education says fewer than 75 percent of students took the assessment this time around

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) said student state assessment scores from this past spring dipped from the last time that students were given statewide assessments in the spring of 2019.

The state assessment results come after a year and a half of disrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students did not take the M-STEP in the 2020 school year, and the percentages of students who took the ELA and math M-STEP tests this year ranged by grade and subject from 64 to 72 percent.

The department of education noted the 2021 M-STEP was required to be administered by local school districts, but was optional for students to take depending on parents’ beliefs about how safe it was to come into school to take the assessment. Students who took the state assessments were more likely to be from districts that offered in-person or hybrid learning and less likely to be students of color, economically disadvantaged students, or English learners, MDE said.

In some cases (6th-grade math), test scores dipped more than 5 or 6 percentage points (see below) in comparison to 2018-19 scores.

In sharing the results, MDE cautioned:

“Fewer than 75 percent of students took the assessment, with some subjects having as few as 50 percent taking the assessment. As a result, the data from the Spring 2021 PSAT 8/9, SAT with Essay, and the M-STEP assessments should be used with caution and comparing it to previous years’ data is not advisable.”

Here are the 2020-21 M-STEP results showing declines for most grades in comparison to the 2018-19 results:

2021 M-STEP Results (Michigan Department of Education)

“In spite of the extraordinary efforts of educators, support staff, school leaders, parents, the broader community, and students themselves, the disruption of the pandemic has inevitably resulted in unfinished learning for many of our children,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Results from the state summative assessments and the local benchmark assessments show that some students were able to make relatively normal gains, while many others will be working with their teachers to accelerate their learning to catch up to where they otherwise would have been in the absence of the pandemic. In Michigan and across the country, we have our work cut out for us.”

State Board of Education President Dr. Casandra Ulbrich and Dr. Rice had requested that the U.S. Department of Education waive the statewide M-STEP assessments for the second straight year. That request to waive state summative assessments was denied.

“Districts are encouraged to dig into their data at the school and district levels to better understand and address gaps,” Dr. Rice said.

For a complete look at this year’s assessment results, please go to www.mischooldata.org.

Benchmark assessments: View Michigan’s 2020-21 Benchmark Assessments here