STUDENT VIEWPOINT: M-Step presents poor reflection of student learning

By Sophia Fabrizio

There are many students, teachers, and parents who dread the M-STEP, which is one of the largest tests in the school year, but there are more problems than just the length of this test. In fact, the most recent M-STEP results have shown that “roughly half of Michigan’s students in grades 3-8 have failed to score in the section of proficient in all four subjects” since the M-STEP came into the picture.
In other words, the M-Step causes too much stress and does not accurately show what children and teens are capable of in terms of their learning and growth.
Alarmingly, the amount of stress caused by the M-Step is actually causing some parents to opt their children out of the test.
According to the Detroit Parent Network, “More than 650,000 students in 15 states in the nation have opted out of taking mandatory assessments including the M-STEP.”
This shows how thousands of parents across Michigan do not value what the tests will do for the school and their children. They question how accurate the test results are in showing what students actually know.
Furthermore, many parents and students have been willing to share their thoughts about the M-STEP, and very few happen to be positive.
For instance, sixth-grader Elliot Corbin from Mt. Clemens claimed she had terrible headaches before the test, stomach pains, and extreme anxiety about the M-STEP days before it actually occurred. This young girl knew very little about the whole point of the M-STEP, but she did know she had a say in whether or not she would ever take the test again. After informing her parents about what she goes through during the month of these tests, her parents made the decision to opt her out of the M-STEP. Now, thousands have followed in their footsteps and made the decision to opt their own children out of this test.
Some would argue the M-STEP is actually extremely helpful in terms of detecting the amount of education being provided by a certain school or teacher, and the real problem is the lack of useful education being taught by local teachers. However, what they fail to recognize is each year the student results coming from the M-STEP are slowly declining by more than 20 percent.
Moreover, most, if not all students, find it nearly impossible to perform on a test that involves remembering everything taught in a whole school year. This causes stress, which leads students to underperform, giving the state of Michigan a false impression of student growth, and impacting schools as to what and how much technology they have access too.
A simple solution could be something as easy as dividing this test into sections, and giving a small portion of the test once every quarter of the year, making it so students will only be tested on roughly three chapters every quarter. In fact, the length of the M-STEP has actually shortened each year in the three years it has been used, allowing for quicker test results. Dividing the M-STEP will help relieve stress for students and teachers, and will help the state of Michigan get a precise look at what students are learning and what teachers are teaching.
Sashabaw Middle School seventh grade students in Allie Dennis’ English Language Arts class are writing proposals in the form of newspaper op-ed articles.

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