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MDE has also apparently taken the position that "assessment" -- the word used in the legislation -- means "test." There is nothing in the law that says that assessments must be in common or uniform across a district.
Is more standardization coming from MDE? The answer is YES. They will develop or select and approve by 2009 assessments for each grade level in English language arts. Those will be available as options for districts to use. See below.
One of the key documents is the FAQ sheet that MDE has created. It can be found at
A few quotes from that document:
Q: Who determines the type of secondary course/credit assessment a district could choose?
A: The local district has the flexibility to determine when an assessment(s) is given, as well as develop or select district or state assessments that measure students' understanding of the content expectations for credit.
Q: Who determines the score a student or students must meet to pass or meet the assessment requirements?
A: A district can select or develop a local assessment for which it establishes a passing score. Alternatively, the district can elect to use a state assessment, in which the state establishes a passing or cut score.
Q: What if the student has passed the class, but fails the assessment? Does the student fail the course?
A: Districts continue to have authority to establish policy on this issue. While the law requires a district to base a student's successful completion, at least in part, on student performance on subject area assessments, the amount the assessment counts toward a student's total grade is up to the district. Therefore awarding credit is a district decision.
Q: Will the state be developing credit assessments?
A: By April 20, 2009, the Michigan Department of Education must develop or select and approve assessments that school districts and public school academies may use to determine whether or not a student has successfully completed a credit required by the Michigan Merit Curriculum [remember all 4 years of English are required, and no student, regardless of ability or handicap is allowed to opt out of any of those years]. The assessments for each credit must measure a student's understanding of the content expectations or guidelines for that credit...
The department is currently naming these Secondary Credit Assessments will be developed in two formats [sic], 1) end of course assessments, which can be used for testing out purposes, and 2) testlets or modular tests that could be used as formative assessments throughout instruction...
In addition, MDE will be developing material to assist school districts and Public School Academies in implementing the Michigan Merit Curriculum, including developing guidelines for alternative instructional delivery methods.
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