MIDLAND—Governor-elect Jennifer Granholm should move the administration of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test back to the education department, says Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
In October 1999, Governor John Engler signed Executive Order 1999-12 that moved the MEAP test from the Michigan Department of Education to the Treasury Department. The 19 education department employees became treasury employees on January 1, 2000. The governor argued at the time that the Michigan Merit Award program, which provides $2,500 college scholarships for students who excel on the MEAP, necessitated moving MEAP to Treasury.
Governor Engler also stated in 1999 that the change would allow the State Board of Education to focus more attention on its core job of improving curriculum and developing standards. The best way to do this is to have the state assessment aligned with the standards, says Dr. Johnson of the Mackinac Center.
“Achievement tests should be closely aligned with academic content standards. These content standards are determined by the State Board of Education, so the MEAP tests should also be within the purview of the Board,” says Johnson. “Currently, it is impossible to develop standards if the State Board of Education cannot administer the test that evaluates those standards.”
Further, Johnson argues that the Merit Award program is an insufficient reason to keep MEAP in Treasury. “Treasury could write scholarship checks without having to administer the whole testing and scholarship program, just as Treasury writes checks for myriad state programs that are administered by other departments,” Johnson said.
Johnson recommends that the new governor move the MEAP back to the Michigan Department of Education. “An executive order moved MEAP in the first place, so another stroke of a pen could move it back,” Johnson said. “Governor-elect Granholm should sign such an executive order as one of her first duties as governor this January.”