Saturday, April 11, 2015

Superintendent's Thoughts to Students and the Community on the M-STEP

Thoughts on M-STEP, by Rod Rock, Superintendent of Schools

As your superintendent, I work each day to fulfill the mission of the Clarkston Community Schools: to cultivate thinkers, learners, and positive contributors to a global society. As I encounter requirements and circumstances that conflict with our mission, I am compelled to call them into question. With that in mind, I am sharing with you some opinions that I hold relative to the State’s M-Step assessment, which are my own and not necessarily those of the Clarkston Community Schools.

Immediately upon our return from Spring Break, the Clarkston Community Schools, along with every other school district in Michigan, will begin administration in our elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools of the state of Michigan’s M-Step Assessment .

For our students, I have three words to share with you regarding this test: Do your best. That’s all there is to it. There’s no reason to be stressed or to worry about this test. No matter what happens--if computers do not work perfectly, if you feel rushed, if you are unsure of answer--just do your best. You have worked hard in school. Your teachers have prepared you. You are ready. Do your best. That is it.

For us as a community of educators, parents, and citizens, I have one word for you: Why. This test, in my opinion, is not ready for our students. No matter how much time we have put into preparation, the state often cannot answer our questions relative to the assessment, regularly releases new software, and often issues new requirements. The test was supposed to be computer adaptive, adjusting according to how students answer questions, and it is not. The data were supposed to be available to us in a timely manner in order to affect our instruction, and they are not. Our principals and teachers have spent countless hours away from their classrooms preparing for a test that is not yet ready for kids. We will spend thousands of dollars in substitute teaching costs to proctor these tests. Our students in computer-related classes for the duration of the school year will have very limited access to course content due to the technological requirements of the assessments and the limited number of computers in our district. Our students who struggle most will lose invaluable support time due to the demands the tests placed upon our teachers. All of our students will lose out on content time due to the length of the tests.

It is not okay with me that our state is requiring us to disrupt school in this way in order to test our students. The State PTA recently passed an emergency resolution, as petitioned by the the Clarkston PTA Council, calling for the cessation of this test; that results not be used to limit financial resources to schools; and that future tests include flexible, localized options already in place. I am hopeful that parents will become aware of how much time, how many resources, and how much of a disruption this test will cause and will ask, Why?

Thank you for allowing me to share my opinion with you.

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