What is the M-STEP?
From the Michigan Department of Education (MDE):
The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress or (M-STEP) replaces the forty year-old Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) and moves test administration from the fall to the spring of each school year. This will allow student measurement to be based upon current versus prior year learning.
As in previous years, English language arts (reading, writing and listening) and mathematics will be assessed in grades 3-8. To reflect current year testing, science will move from being assessed in grades 5 and 8 to grades 4 and 7, and social studies from grades 6 and 9 to being assessed in grades 5 and 8 to measure current year growth.
This new system was developed by the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Standards and Assessment and builds upon Michigan’s historically strong student assessment program.
The M-STEP will include summative assessments designed to measure student growth effectively for today’s students. English language arts and mathematics will be assessed in grades 3–8, science in grades 4 and 7, and social studies in grades 5 and 8. It also includes the Michigan Merit Examination in 11th grade which consists of the ACT Plus Writing, WorkKeys, and M-STEP summative in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
How is the M-STEP different from the MEAP?
M-STEP vs. MEAP
The MEAP test was a rather straightforward assessment in the traditional format including multiple choice questions and answers as well as essay responses. The M-STEP is an evolution of this format to give a deeper and clearer picture of student growth through an array of testing platforms.
The 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.
ELA - English Language Arts
The English Language Arts portion of the test will consist of three distinct parts: an online Computer Test (CT), 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.
MDE also launched an effort to begin developing new items written by Michigan educators, to be included as field-test items in the spring of 2015. These items cannot be counted in the operational pool, prior to field-test information; however, it demonstrates the state's continued commitment to involve and include Michigan’s educators in the test development process as much as possible moving forward.
Spring 2015 M-STEP summative tests for grades 3–8 and 11 will include: