senate Concurrent Resolution No.5

Senator Polehanki offered the following concurrent resolution:

A concurrent resolution to urge the United States Department of Education to grant waivers for Michigan state assessment requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Whereas, State and federal laws require schools to assess student learning every year in specific grade levels and subjects. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states must administer annual statewide assessments. If states do not meet certain requirements, the U.S. Department of Education may withhold federal funding; and

Whereas, Michigan meets this federal requirement in part by requiring schools to administer standardized tests. The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) is given to students online in grades 3-7 to measure their knowledge of state standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The Michigan Department of Education also administers the PSAT 8/9 which replaced the M-STEP ELA and mathematics assessment for grade 8. The M-STEP and the PSAT 8/9 aim to provide valuable information to parents and teachers on student academic performance that help schools and districts evaluate curriculum and programming effectiveness; and

Whereas, While the PSAT 8/9 is paper-based and the M-STEP is administered online, students normally take both assessments under the supervision of an administrator who can ensure test security. Maintaining uniform procedures for test administration helps ensure that results are accurate and meaningful and that no student has an unfair advantage in their assessment performance; and

Whereas, In light of the uncertainty of in-person school attendance for the rest of the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it will be difficult to prepare uniform procedures for administration of state assessments. This may result in decreased test security and overall confusion regarding the process, which may detract from the reliability of the assessment results; and

Whereas, The U.S. Department of Education announced that they will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic for the current 2019-2020 school year. The decision was made in order to allow students to focus on learning and staying healthy while allowing teachers time to adapt to remote learning; and

Whereas, School districts will continue to face enormous burdens and challenges as they scramble to prepare for education under new and uncertain circumstances in the upcoming school year. It is essential that we allow them flexibility to ease some of those burdens. While state assessments provide valuable information, we should allow schools to focus their limited resources and energy on other initiatives; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That we urge the United States Department of Education to grant waivers for Michigan state assessment requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act for the 2020-2021 school year; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the United States Secretary of Education.