Michigan replaces MEAP with M-STEP
Starting in 2015, the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) will completely replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) as the state’s assessment system for grades 3-8, and will act as one component of the MME assessment in grade 11. M-STEP includes content developed by the State of Michigan, as well as by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Michigan had previously planned to move forward with Smarter Balanced in 2015, but the state legislature had concerns and put the plan on hold. While it is a computer-based assessment, M-STEP will also feature a paper-and-pencil option for districts that do not have sufficient technology to administer the test electronically. The M-STEP, in its current form, functions as a one-year stopgap until the assessment is rebid for 2016, at which point the state will select a vendor to produce its assessments. The M-STEP name will remain, however, regardless of who creates the content.
The English Language Arts portion of the test will consist of three distinct parts: an online Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), a Classroom Activity (not online), and an online Performance Task.
Of particular interest to ELA teachers may be the inclusion of Performance Tasks in the new assessment system. These Performance Tasks are described in the M-STEP transition documents as tasks that are “designed to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with traditional test questions. The Performance Tasks will be taken on a computer (but will not be computer-adaptive) and will take one to two class periods to complete.” Having tasks like these present on a high-stakes, standardized test underscores the importance of providing students opportunities to practice literacy skills across the curriculum, as mandated by the Common Core State Standards. Based on the description provided, M-STEP Performance Tasks will measure literacy-based skills, but in various contexts. Getting students prepared for these activities will likely require ELA and non-ELA teachers to work collaboratively to ensure that students are able to apply core literacy skills in a variety of situations.
The Classroom Activity portion of the assessment will be a scripted lesson, delivered by a teacher, to provide context to the Performance Task. This is designed to provide background knowledge, such as key topics and vocabulary, to level the playing field for all students. By providing this context, students with or without prior knowledge on the topic should all have the tools needed to perform at a high level on the test.