MEAP writing test written off

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Faced with declining scores on last fall's exam, state education officials have decided not to test most elementary students in writing on the next Michigan Educational Assessment Program test, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Last fall's writing results have not been made public, but Michigan Department of Education staff confirmed that far fewer students earned advanced scores than in previous years, The Press reported.

Instead of testing all third- through eighth-graders in writing, only fourth and seventh-graders will be tested next year, The Press reported. The state also will work on a new, all-student test.

Educators told The Press that while few Kent County students reached the top level on last fall's writing exam, they also believe that money was a likely factor in the switch. The writing exam is the only state test that cannot be graded by computer.

"No. 1, this is about money," Jon Felske, superintendent for Wyoming and Godwin Heights schools, told The Press. "Watch. The test will go away next year and they'll come back with a new one that will be totally multiple choice."

Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results are used in determining whether schools meet federal goals mandated in the No Child Left Behind Act, The Press reported. Poor test results can lead to sanctions.

Teachers who created the exams set the bar too high, Joseph Martineau, the state's director of educational assessment and accountability, told the state Board of Education, according to The Press. He also said the exam is unreliable and that it would be better to have students take longer, more in-depth exams in grades four and seven, the article said.

The Grand Rapids Press, "MEAP essay exam sacked, but officials question if it's about money or problems with the test,"
March 29, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "The shell game of making AYP,"
March 18, 2009