New MI bills would limit impact of test score amid COVID-19


Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Senators are introducing a bill to put a temporary pause on the use of data from standardized tests to evaluate students for the 2020-21 school year due to the challenges the pandemic has placed on remote learning.

Those senators include Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing), and Paul Wojno (D-Warren).

In Michigan, students in grades K-12 are evaluated annually using a combination of assessments and merit examinations. Testing was suspended a year ago amid the pandemic, but the U.S. Department of Education recently said that states must resume testing this year.

“Our students and educators have faced an unprecedented and exhausting school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and should not be punished for circumstances that are out of their control,” Sen. Polehanki said in a press release.

“The grade retention portion of the 3rd grade reading law will be implemented for the first time this year. It is not fair to the thousands of 3rd grade students who can be legally flunked based on their scores on one standardized test they take this spring. In fact, it is unconscionable after all the mental stress they have endured during the pandemic. The retention piece of this law was misguided before the pandemic, as study after study shows that grade retention is not an effective way improve kids’ reading. Now, it is just plain cruel.”

 Sen. Polehanki said in a press release

Some of the amendments the bill would put a pause to include:

  • Read by Grade retention for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 199; Sen. Polehanki).
  • State mandate that districts evaluate teachers using student growth data for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 201; Sen. Hertel).
  • State mandate that districts evaluate administrators using student growth data for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 200; Sen. Geiss).
  • Requirement that Michigan Department of Education assign schools a “letter grade” for the 2020-2021 school year (Senate Bill 202; Sen. Wojno)

Sens. Hertel and Geiss introduced bills to pause the use of student growth in teacher and administrator evaluations, respectively.

“One standardized test can’t measure the impact COVID-19 has had on our students and educators,” Sen. Hertel said in a press release. “We should be focused on getting students and teachers safely back into the classroom with the support they need, not further penalizing them.”

As many schools reopen to in-person learning, uncertainty remains about how statewide testing data results will be used.

Sen. Geiss added in the press release from the Michigan Senate, “School administrators have worked hard throughout the pandemic to make sure students get a quality education, teachers have the resources they need to be successful, and families can rest assured that they are being set up for success. The language of these bills holds harmless students, teachers, and administrators for taking on an unprecedented challenge and that no one misses a beat when it is safe to return to in-person learning.”

Sen. Wojno’s bill would pause the letter grades assigned to schools based on student performance data.

“This legislative package is an important step in reassuring our students and schools, that we are acutely aware of the pressure and strains this pandemic has put on our education community,” Sen. Wojno said in a press release. “Pausing these requirements is the right thing to do.”

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